A Grassroots Effort

A letter is going out to all Houston area friends of soccer urging its recipients to join the campaign to convert the city-owned

Gus Wortham golf course

to a youth soccer complex and practice field for the

Houston Dynamo


The news that the city was considering converting the East End greens — is it true that Howard Hughes once played there??? — immediately produced more adrenalin among its golfers than a lifetime of Masters championships.

How could the city think of doing this to an historic field! And one located right across the street from the Villa de Matel, a retired nuns convent (rated #24 on the Yahoo Travel Guide for things to do in Houston. Sigh.) Never mind that it's sort of a forgotten historic golf course. But there are voters fine people using it and so Councilwoman Carol Alvarado, elected from that district, has said no way. She'd rather see it renovated, something estimated to take millions of dollars.

On the other hand, Houston has a well-known shortage of soccer fields for kids and adults alike with the result that a lot of the city's kids either can't find a field to play on or end up being shipped out to the dreaded suburbs to play club ball. And this may be a stretch here, but probably there aren't that many of those kids (or others) golfing at the Wortham.

So a threesome of high level soccer folks have decided to press their case and try to prove there are more soccer supporters than golfers and that the occasional sandpiles and water hazards should be bulldozered away and replaced by soccer pitches. Dynamo President and General Manager Oliver Luck, South Texas Soccer Association President Ed Loucks and Texas State Soccer Association President Pascal Piazza wrote a "Dear Friend of Soccer" letter urging folks to contact the mayor, Alvarado, and everyone's own council rep as well.

Luck says the city presented them with the idea of building a permanent home for the Dynamo at the Gus Wortham but the street access just wasn't there. But he wholeheartedly supports a youth complex at the site where the Dynamo could at least practice. (As for the stadium, the Dynamo are still talking with Houston, Sugar Land and Pearland).

A youth complex would, they believe, support the ever increasing interest in soccer, not to mention develop more homegrown talent. More interest translates into more people buying tickets at Dynamo games. "Anything good for soccer is good for us," Luck says.

So it's the golfers versus the kids, two good groups going head to head, balls to balls. The neighborhood is Hispanic; many of the kids want to play soccer, but if they can't I guess they can always look forward to caddying opportunities now that the Gus Wortham has regained all this attention. — Margaret Downing

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