FARMINGTON — Thanks to the efforts of the Kirtland Youth Association and the community, local athletes have a new youth football field.

The nonprofit organization has worked since spring 2014 to build the 80-yard field on land just west of its Kirtland building, according to executive director Charles Kromer.

He said teams in the Four Corners Young American Football League have been playing on the football field since August, and hundreds of people attend games each Saturday.

A majority of the funding for the $98,860 project came from two grants, which totaled about $70,000, from Public Service Co. of New Mexico's PNM Resource Foundation, Kromer said.

Plans for the field have been in place since 2011 when the Kirtland building opened. It took about two years to grow enough grass on the undeveloped land for the field. A $6,900 grant from Keep New Mexico Beautiful Inc. paid for planting trees near the field.

Kromer said YAFL teams have described the new field as the best grass field they’ve played on. Children in the organization’s after-school program also participate in activities on the field.

“It’s a beautiful site out there,” Kromer said.

Kromer estimated there was about 1,000 people at the first YAFL game hosted at the field. The bleachers at the field were built to accommodate 100 people.

“We had no idea this is the response we would get,” Kromer said.

The organization held a ribbon cutting ceremony on Sept. 17 with representatives from PNM, San Juan County Commissioners, Rep. Sharon Clahchischilliage, R-Kirtland, and San Juan County CEO Kim Carpenter.

Jesse Foutz, a member of the local YAFL board of directors, said the Kirtland team did not have a field where it could play before the one in Kirtland was constructed. He said the new field will help the team reduce its travel outside San Juan County for games.

“It makes me happy that Kirtland finally has something this is nice for our youth,” Foutz said.

Foutz and Kromer both said help from the community was crucial to the project. Businesses donated materials and allowed volunteers to use equipment, including tractors and forklifts. A local welder helped craft the goal posts.

And coaches and parents spent many hours making sure the playing field was laid out perfectly, Foutz said.

“The community has been great for the support we’ve gotten,” Foutz said. “I can’t thank them enough.”

Kromer said a local youth soccer league has shown interest in using the field in the future.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

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