Poinciana residents gather at the new football field at Vance Harmon Park for an official ribbon cutting ceremony. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

POINCIANA – Standing in the wide open field at Vance Harmon Park, with a group of cheerleaders close by, Val Ramos recalled just how long ago Poinciana started its first football program.
“I was the first recreation coordinator in Poinciana,” said Ramos. “We started a flag football program. That was 21 years ago.”
This morning, Ramos stood out on the brand new football field that was constructed at the park off Cypress Parkway, the first time in Poinciana’s 40 year history that the community had its own football field. For Ramos and everyone else who gathered on the field for an official ribbon cutting ceremony, it was, not surprisingly, a day of great excitement and celebration.
“Flag football was not contact enough, so the following year we went into full contact sports,” Ramos said. “Unfortunately, we never had a field for them, or the funds to build one.”
That changed when Avatar, the main developer in the common, offered the Association of Poinciana Villages – the homeowners association for the 10 villages in Poinciana, and the agency that Ramos works for today – the land at Vance Harmon Park to build on. The APV had set aside the funds for developing the field in its 2011 budget, with $88,000 available for the construction work. This morning, it was ready for the cheerleaders and teams to stafrt playing.
“Our dream came true,” Ramos said. “This is their home field, finally. Just imagine, when we first got here 22 years ago, there were 7,000 people here back then. Now there are 70,000 in Poinciana. Out of that 70,000, there are probably 30,000 children, so these facilities are definitely needed.”
“This is a dream come true,” added Jodie Young, a Poinciana coach who said he can’t wait to bring his teams to the field.

It took 21 years from the start of Poinciana's first football program to the opening of its first football field. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

It was a long time coming, which is why the celebration was so richly deserved, he added.
“I know the struggles they’ve gone through to get this field,” Young said.
Coach Alan Bates said the work isn’t done yet. The new field, he added, is a good start, but not the final step in their decades-long mission.
“I feel great today,” he said. “It is a dream come true. We finally got to this point where we have our own home field. But we have a long way to go. We need concession stands out here, and bathrooms, and bleachers. Hopefully that won’t take too long. It took 21 years and honestly, we don’t have another 21 years to wait.”
Linda Cantreva, another coach, added “Here’s my wish list of what we need. First, lights, then more bleachers, concession stands, bathrooms — and support from the community.”
They appeared to have that, judging from the strong turnout of local residents for the ribbon cutting.
“This field is awesome,” said Keith Laytham, a member of the group Poinciana Residents for Smart Change, which is working to improve the community.
“What’s even more important is the location of it,” Laytham added. “It sends the right signal to the community. This field rocks, and that’s the message we want to send – that Poinciana rocks.”
Wendy Farrell, a local business owner and member of the Poinciana Area Council, added that anyone driving past Vance Harmon Park could easily see the field and recognize how good it looks – perfect advertising for future games that will be held there.
“It’s awesome,” she said. “You can’t miss it. People will drive right past it and see it.”

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