The offseason is a time for professional athletes to rest, spend time with family and mentally get prepared for the next season. For Sporting Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza, this offseason took him on a trip to his home country of Honduras. Espinoza traveled with Kansas City-based not-for-profit Unbound to Santa Barbara, Honduras, where he hosted soccer clinics and visited with local families with the hope of providing encouragement to local youth.
Espinoza grew up north of San Pedro Sula, known as one of the deadliest cities in the world, in a coastal town called Puerto Cortes. At the age of 12, Espinoza moved with his family to the United States and has since represented Honduras in 44 international matches, including two FIFA World Cups and the 2012 Summer Olympics.
From the moment the Unbound group arrived in Honduras, Roger was welcomed with song and dance from local families. To many in Honduras, he is not only a national hero, but proof that the possibility of a better life exists. With a majority of Hondurans living in poverty, the average family earns around $200 per month and there is a lack of opportunity for many.
During his three-day trip, Roger spent the first two mornings hosting soccer clinics for area youth who are part of the Unbound program. The clinics were not only a chance for Roger to engage the youth through a game that is treasured by nearly all in Honduras, but also an opportunity to take time to answer questions and inspire them to keep furthering their education in pursuit of a better life. Following each day’s clinic, Roger and the group spent the afternoon visiting local communities in which Unbound has a presence. In a country where families have very little, they certainly came together and showcased the true meaning of community with elaborate decorations, fireworks, local refreshments, song and dance to welcome their guest. It was a chance for Roger to individually visit families and hear first-hand the daily struggles they face.
The final morning of the trip, Roger was hosted in an indigenous town outside Santa Barbara where a festival was thrown in his honor. He spent the morning playing soccer -- both organized and pick-up -- with children in the community and was serenaded by the locals. That evening, he visited a self-help group of mothers who are working with Unbound to start their own business in order to provide a better life for their families.
Kansas City reporter Ariel Rothfield joined Roger and the Unbound group on the trip. She produced two pieces which aired on 41 Action News this week:
MLS Insider also sent a documentary crew along on the trip. Their story will be released in the coming months.