While the world's best soccer athletes take center stage in Brazil, players of all levels are having a ball right here in city parks. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.
It didn't take much convincing to get a dozen players together for an early morning game Monday at Walker Park in SoHo.
"It's a great way to get some exercise and meet people and get outside," said Alex Kline, a pickup soccer player.
The impromptu game was part of Pickup Soccer NYC, founded by artist and photographer Susanna Thornton in 2006. At the time she was looking to kick the ball around but didn't want to play in a league. So she decided to set up some no pressure pickup matches and the idea took off.
"We just had a huge amount of interest at the outset of this, and it's just been really a great following since," Thornton said.
Around 2,000 players have hit the pitch over the years in Manhattan and Brooklyn. It's a way for players of all different skill levels to get involved in the beautiful game.
"I think it brings together a whole group of people that really just love soccer," said Danny Breslauer, a pickup soccer player.
"People take it seriously enough that you want to do well, you want to get the goals, but we're all friends, we're all just having a good time," said Mara Gerety, a pickup soccer player.
But these folks can be hardcore. The organization runs games year round, which means you will find a bunch of them out playing even when temperatures drop below freezing.
"We have an amazing group of volunteers and they all have so much heart to be out there even in the dead of winter," Thornton said.
"These guys, they get together, they have great fields, some of the best permits in the city," said Jordan Breslauer, a pickup soccer player.
"You know nobody gets upset about things. We don't keep an official score. We just play," added Allen Smith, a pickup soccer player.
"It's perfect to meet people, have something social to do, get out, enjoy the sun, and I've loved it so far," said Travis Morrison, a pickup soccer player.
If all of the World Cup excitement has given you the itch to play some soccer, check out pickupsoccer.org.