The Baltimore Police Department kicked off its spring soccer league yesterday afternoon at a municipal park that was once a haven for drug dealers.
More than 500 children packed Frank C. Bocek Park, on East Madison Street at the edge of some of East Baltimore's most dangerous neighborhoods. Provident Bank of Maryland donated $25,000 to pay for referees and uniforms.
"I came to have fun," said Shatel Veazy, 10, a fifth-grader at Frederick Elementary School. "I have no experience with soccer, but I like to kick things."
The citywide Police Athletic League centers played one another in soccer matches, while other students attended clinics conducted by two players from the city's professional soccer team.
Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier, who told the youngsters that he likes "to see boys and girls play soccer," said that three years ago, Bocek Park was taken over by drug dealers and shootings were common.
"You couldn't come here," Frazier said, smiling as he looked at four soccer fields filled with children being coached by police officers.
Pub Date: 4/21/98