If you haven’t been by the Country Club Bowl to pick up a game lately, the new look of their parking lot at 88 Vivian Way might surprise you.
What appears to be a mini soccer stadium occupying a quarter of the parking lot is just that — a miniature stadium, complete with two 72-by-52-foot turf fields, electronic scoreboard, a clubhouse and lights for night games.
The mini soccer park in San Rafael is one of two in Northern California; the other is in San Francisco.
Built in partnership with Street Soccer USA and board member Josh Frazier, owner of Urban Soccer, the Street Soccer USA Parks is part of the urban soccer movement.
“Our focus is transforming low utility, urban spaces into places where we can offer more recreational programs to kids who might not have a place nearby to play,” said Christian Martin, general manager of Street Soccer USA Parks. “They say it takes 10,000 hours of practice to really master something. Street Soccer USA four-versus-four (players) … give you more practice, more touches on the ball, more goals.”
Tahnee Martin, manager of Country Club Bowl, said the arrangement has worked to put an unused portion of their parking lot to good use while reaching out to the community and attracting more people to the bowling alley.
“It’s been great,” she said. “We’ve seen quite an increase in our business.”
There are drop-in mini tournaments for kids and adults. The park even offers a class called Li’l Kickers, a child development program that uses soccer to help children, ages 18 months to 9 years, reach developmental milestones through age-appropriate skill-building activities.
The park, which was established in San Rafael over the summer, is recruiting for its Winter Season Skills Institute Soccer League, which begins Dec. 1. A team for boys and one for girls ages 5 to 10 will play in a 10-week season on Saturday afternoons.
For information or to enroll, send email to…