Mike Ein

ATLANTIC CITY — Gov. Chris Christie, his wife Mary Pat, and ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba from the United Arab Emirates all came to the playground at the corner of Texas and Fairmount avenues on Monday to dedicate a new soccer field funded with donations from the UAE’s $5 million donation to the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund.

But the real big news, as least as far as the Texas Avenue School students attending the event were concerned, was that the school’s third- and fourth-grade soccer team won their city championship on that very field Friday.

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“I scored three goals,” said Yiftai Vasquez, 9, who sat next to the podium with teammate Hilary Hernandez during the dedication.

The soccer field is part of a national program by the UAE which has also funded fields in six other cities, including New York, Washington, D.C, Chicago, Miami, Dallas and East Los Angeles. Most of the $5 million donation to the Hurricane Sandy relief fund went to upgrading technology in 30 schools damaged by the storm. The rest was allotted to two soccer fields. The site for the second one is still being finalized.

A former soccer player, and father of two, Al Otaiba said they wanted to do something that had a direct impact on children.

“I like to do things that you can go out and touch,” he said as students from the school gave the field a workout. Several came up personally thank him.

“This is so much nicer,” Estefani Rosario, 13, said comparing the new field to the old dirt field that was there before.


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