For as long as Graham Zusi has competed professionally as a member of Sporting Kansas City, he has also paid countless visits to Children’s Mercy Hospital and conducted dozens of youth clinics across the metro area. The seven-time MLS All-Star has become synonymous not only with Sporting, but with the greater Kansas City community for his humanitarian efforts.
That’s why Monday—the day Sporting announced that The Victory Project and Children’s Mercy would appear on Sporting’s primary and secondary jerseys in 2021—meant so much to Zusi.
Sporting unveiled its new Hoops 3.0 primary kit this week, featuring The Victory Project across the front and Children’s Mercy on the left sleeve. A portion of all proceeds from Sporting jersey sales will go to The Victory Project, the club’s charitable arm dedicated to helping children through all of life’s challenges. This marks the first time in MLS history that a charitable foundation has featured on a club’s full-season kits.
“I think the jerseys look super sharp, and to have something on the front of them that means so much is really cool as well,” Zusi said this morning during his weekly appearance on Sports Radio 810 WHB. “All in all, it’s an amazing organization and we’re so proud to have The Victory Project across our chests this year.”
As part of Monday’s unveil, Sporting announced a community campaign called “A Force for Good” that will see The Victory Project focus on four key platforms: continuing to partner with Children’s Mercy to help kids fight cancer, continuing to grant Sporting Wishes to children with secondary cancer diagnoses, making the sport of soccer more accessible to children with limited financial resources, and providing meals for children and families in need.
For Zusi, being a part of The Victory Project’s philanthropic initiatives has been one of the most rewarding experiences of his life.
“You go to these hospitals and hang out with these kiddos, and it’s inspiring to see the outlook that these young kids have towards their life,” Zusi said. “It puts so much into perspective about our daily lives. Going on these visits, I swear, it helps me as much as it helps these kids for a couple of hours. It’s incredible.
“And on top of that, the staff that Children’s Mercy has and the experience that they give these kids is just unbelievable. I can’t say enough about the workers from top to bottom and what they do on a daily basis to give these kids a little more comfort in their situations.”
Zusi said that interacting with The Victory Project helps him and his teammates both away from the field and off the pitch, as the children they meet often serve as their largest sources of inspiration.
“Walking out onto the field and looking up to the Victory Suite, hearing the Cauldron chant the names of the kids—it’s so inspiring and we really thrive off of that energy,” he said.
As for Zusi’s thoughts on the new kit, he drummed up a rave review.
“This one is top three for me I’d say, easily, in the history of Sporting’s jerseys,” Zusi said. “I’m pumped to see them on the field and see what they look like on the television and from the stands.”