By Nathan Mayberg
BLOOMINGBURG September 20, 2005 The Town of Mamakating celebrated its new soccer field on Sunday at the town park in Bloomingburg.
Joining town officials and residents at the ceremony was State Senator John Bonacic, who secured $25,000 in funding for the park.
Recreational Activities Volunteer Effort (RAVE), a local civic group, raised enough money to cover the expense of the goalposts and two bleachers at the field.
Previously, the local soccer team was sharing the same field as the local little league team.
The new soccer field is part of the towns revitalization of its park. An ice rink is the next project to be completed.
Town Supervisor Charles Penna hopes to build a skateboarding rink after that, and add on a shuttle to transport children from Wurtsboro to Bloomingburg.
The soccer field is home to the Sullivan County American Youth Soccer Organization, which boasts a staggering 1,400 youth, according to the towns soccer commissioner Paul Oakley. The Mamakating league, which runs from September to October, features mixed gender teams comprised of players ages 4 and 1/2 to 18.
Oakley said the field meets international regulations and can be used for FIFA tournaments, high school games, or adult tournaments. His next hope is begin a summer league.
Norma Hallahan, one of the RAVE members, said she believed soccer was important for the areas youth. She said soccer builds companionship and self esteem, as well as the feeling of being in a group and competitiveness.
She knows how far sports can take talented, dedicated individuals, as her daughter Jean Hallahan, recently received a silver medal in the World Racquetball Championship in New Mexico.
The other members of RAVE are President Karen Beissel, Mary Barbuti, Martha DeMartino, Marcia Hamill, Joann MacKinnon, Barbara Magiera, Rhoda Ryan and Marian Steiger.
Hamill said the group is small but dedicated. RAVE is involved in many local activities, such as an annual Halloween party, a bunny breakfast, airport breakfast and Wurtsboro fly-in, among others.
Penna said the construction of the new soccer field was a year and a half of hard work. He said work for a skateboard park was already underway, as a recent battle of the bands by local teenagers raised $500. He estimated that such a park would cost $25,000.