Wizards hold 2nd Greener Goals event
While many sat inside air conditioned buildings to avoid the blistering heat, Kansas City Wizards players and staff gathered with around 300 volunteers to participate in the 2nd Annual Greener Goals event at Belvidere Park in Northeast Kansas City to clean the soccer fields for the Northeast International Soccer League and hold a mini-clinic for children in the area. (SEE VIDEO RECAP)
Volunteers alongside the Wizards included children ages 13-18 from Don Bosco Centers, the Northeast International Soccer League, Missouri Police Department, Kansas City Parks and Recreation, as well as members from both the Kansas City Chapter and National Chapter of the FBI Academy Alumni Association.
Brett Hovington, Unit Chief for the Community Relations at the FBI Headquarters says, “A lot of planning went into it and a lot of cooperation with the local community reps such as the Kansas City Wizards, Northeast Soccer Club, KC Parks and Recreation. It has just been a great collaborative approach in the KC community, and being in from Washington D.C., it is a great honor to be here.”
Throughout the morning, volunteers lined soccer fields, cleared trash that had been buried in the woods for a number of years, trimmed away brush and installed bleachers and other fixtures. Most importantly, everyone interacted and connected through the shared language of soccer, a language these children know very well.
Alejandro Cabero of the Northeast International Soccer League who works directly with the children of the area agrees, “The main thing is the kids, they are exposed to so many risk factors just on their way to and from school, and now I am watching them and they are feeling a sense of belonging with this group, with the FBI, the Kansas City Wizards and the Police department. It’s an environment they have never connected with; it’s amazing.”
Jimmy Nielsen, goalkeeper for the Wizards, also agrees: “It's very important the kids have a safe place to go, play some soccer and be together in their social life. That's the great thing about soccer; it's bringing people together. It's a team game.”
The morning’s tremendous effort was just one of many surprises that would be part of the Belvidere Park Project throughout the day. Members of the Northeast International Soccer League received a $20,000 check, $10,000 from the National FBI Academy Alumni Association and $10,000 from the local Kansas City Chapter of the FBI Academy Alumni Association, to be used toward the Belvidere Park Project. In addition, the KC Soccer Foundation contributed $5,000 toward the project.
This money will be used for additional six phases of the project, as artificial turf for the fields, a walking path, lighting for night play and a concession stand are installed.
With the announcements of the additional projects, many children were bursting with excitement that only grew larger when they were able to participate in a Wizards mini-clinic at the park’s fields with Wizards defenders Pablo Escobar and Aaron Hohlbein, and goalkeepers Eric Kronberg and Jimmy Nielsen. The players were able to help kids through obstacle courses and scrimmages to give them a chance to try their new fields and have some fun after a long day of work.
“Being here makes me feel good. You come out here with a lot of happy kids, young people. That's what American soccer needs. The future is here. If I can be a little bit a part of that, then that's great. I'm happy to be here,” Nielsen said.
Greener Goals, today, was just one of many events held in an effort to enhance Northeast’s Belvidere Park and turn it into a place where kids can enjoy soccer, socialize and, most importantly, be in a safe environment.