By COLlive reporter
Young yeshiva students in Crown Heights have been playing baseball, basketball and soccer in Hamilton Metz – Lefferts Park each Friday afternoon for decades.
The young boys attend local Yeshivas, which have a rigorous daily schedule beginning early in the day and ending late in the afternoon, and Friday afternoon is one of their only opportunities each week to enjoy outdoor sports and activities. The park also provides a crucial outlet for local public school children who play there on Fridays as well.
In the past few weeks, the boys were shocked to have been asked to leave the field at 4 PM, after the Park Slope United Soccer Club arrived to play.
The soccer club, based in the nearby neighborhood of Park Slope and which includes members from Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, and Brownsville, had recently applied for and received a permit to play on the field every Friday from 4 – 6 PM through the spring and summer.
With the children disappointed about losing their beloved Friday games, and concerned about escalating disputes, Crown Heights Shomrim volunteers brought their plight to the attention of community activist Yaacov Behrman, director of Operation Survival and member of Community Board 9.
Behrman reached out to Park Slope United, and explained that Friday is the only day the kids can play each week.
When the staff at Park Slope United heard about the conflict in schedule, they agreed to help out.
They agreed to move their games to 5 PM, giving the boys an extra hour to play. In an incredibly kind gesture, they also offered that their coach, Shaquile Mcletchie, a coach at Park Slope United will coach the Yeshiva students for free for an hour one weekend a month.
“I’m happy to help the kids of the community, and work with you guys to help the children and families,” Mcletchie told COLlive. “Our motto is ‘Community, integrity, and excellence,’ and so we are happy to push back our schedule to give the kids this time slot. We strive to do whatever it takes to help out in the community.”
“This is a beautiful example of the community working together, side by side for the benefit of our youth,” Yaacov Behrman told COLlive. “We appreciate that Park Slope United is giving us this courtesy and working to accommodate us.”
Behrman has also arranged for a community permit for the hours of 1 PM-4:45 PM, so the park is blocked off for community time. He asks the community to respect the Soccer Club’s permit when they come at 4:45 PM.
“We also thank the NYC Parks Department and the offices of Laurie Cumbo and Alieka Samuels and Geoffrey A. Davis for their assistance,” he said.