Giovanna Z. Rinaldo
Enjoying a day of entertainment, free food and activities, Pomona residents and visitors gathered to witness the opening of brand new state-of-the-art soccer facility Goals on Saturday.
The company, which already has a similar location in South Gate that opened in 2010, celebrated its second center in the United States with a free soccer clinic for kids, giveaways, face painting, Knockerball and an In-N-Out food truck among other festivities.
In addition, the event featured the Futboleros skills squad and members of the Ontario Fury professional indoor soccer team amusing the public.
“There is a lot of soccer in Pomona and very few options in terms of artificial turfs specifically,” general manager Anthony Tibaldi said. “We actually had a lot of people call us and say they go all the way from Rancho or Pomona or Covina to South Gate to play, so they are thrilled that this is now an option.”
The inauguration kicked off at 10 a.m. and the space quickly filled up with guests, mostly families. A DJ entertained the crowd with upbeat Latin songs including Shakira and Enrique Iglesias as festivities took place.
Goals’ facility includes nine 5v5 fields and one 7v7 field, all equipped with full LED lightning and pro-turf artificial grass, following the model of the company’s 46 centers across the United Kingdom.
Each field is named after famous soccer stadiums around the world, from England’s Wembley and Spain’s Camp Nou to Brazil’s Maracana and Argentina’s La Bombonera.
The center also has men’s and women’s locker rooms, a sports café and a modern lounge area where HD televisions show live sports games.
“What is nice about (soccer) is you don’t need a lot of equipment,” Tibaldi said. “And I think the small-sided soccer is especially convenient and that you need five, preferably six guys and that’s your team, that’s all you need,” Tibaldi said.
“You can get a small group of friends together, come out, all you need is shoes and shin guards and you’re good to go,” he said.
One of the facility’s biggest advantage, the all-weather attribute of the fields, has recently attracted people who resorted to their center to conduct practices, which would have been canceled due to the effects of rain on the grass field.
“It’s funny because in the U.K. the only thing that stops people from playing is the snow,” Goals operations director Morris Payton said. “We’re not going to have that problem here, but we found that in South Gate people wouldn’t play in the rain.”
“With all the rain that we’ve had the last week or so, a lot of clubs have been looking for somewhere to practice and they’ve been coming down here, so obviously they’re not quite as shy in the rain in this area,” he said.
The demand for a facility like Goals’ has long been felt by Pomona residents, who did not have a comparable soccer complex before.
“I think it’s really nice, right now there’s not many local ones (facilities) so it’s nice to have this,” said Lisa Gomez, Pomona resident and mother of 11-year old Jordan Hernandez who plays for youth academy team FC Golden State.
“We live about five minutes away so it’s nice to have a local facility for him to be able to come to.”
“He can come casually, for pickup games and just to kind of keep him in shape and that’s what we’re planning to use this for,” Gomez added.
Goals’ field bookings are available throughout the week and rates vary according to field choice and time – from $120 to $155 in peak time between 6 and 10 p.m. and $80 to $100 in off-peak from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Clinics are offered every Saturday for $10 a session and a variety of tournaments happen throughout the year, divided into men, women, co-ed and youth teams. The facility also books birthday parties and corporate events.
For small groups or individual play, Goals offers the possibility to join an open public field at the price of $5 for guests 17 years old and younger and $10 for those over 18.
The facility is located at 2255 South Garey Ave and is open Monday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Bookings can be made via phone or online atgoals-soccer.com.
Giovanna Z. Rinaldo can be reached at email@example.com.