By Peter Walsh

Boys and girls soccer teams rarely, if ever, compete against each other but at Hudson River Park last week, they battled it out in a weed pulling event as part of their pre-season community service/team building, a prelude to the fall kick-off.

For three days, a total of 119 kids ages 12 to 14 years old from the Downtown United Soccer Club (DUSC) were split into teams, just like on the field, and were instructed to pull weeds that were choking out the perennial ornamental grasses planted in the Park's boardwalk area just south of Pier 40 in Tribeca.

In earnest, the kids, their hands protected by park-issued gardening gloves and armed with hand trowels, jumped into the work, asking the seasonal park employees overseeing the events the same questions:

"Is this a weed?"

"Do you do this every day?"

Yes, is the answer.

While fewer girls attended the event (24), they rallied, meticulously snapping up the offending crabgrass, mugwort and sedge that permeated the garden beds. The 95 boys in attendance did an outstanding job despite being distracted by the cajoling of their team mates.

Overall, the event was a worthwhile effort for all involved. The kids learned what constitutes a weed and how to pull it and the weeds ended up in the compost pile leaving a clean slate for future planting.

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