The American soccer community convened in Newtown, Conn., on Monday to offer a helping hand to a community still healing in the face of unspeakable tragedy.
Soccer Night in Newtown, the brainchild of Houston Dynamo President Chris Canetti, allowed soccer players to show support to a community that was ravaged on Dec. 14 by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that took the lives of 20 elementary school students and six administrators.
Soccer Night in Newtown
Nearly 40 current MLS players, including the LA Galaxy trio of Landon Donovan, Sean Franklin and Rafael Garcia, as well as various male and female U.S. soccer legends answered the call to help the tragedy-stricken community in their time of need.
For Garcia, the father of a 3-year-old child, the decision to participate was simple.
“For me to be a part of this is something that I’ll never forget because to be able to give back, even in some small way, is very important,” Garcia said. “Being a father myself, I can only imagine what the families are going through so for me, it was a no brainer.
“I’m definitely glad I came and helped,” he added. “To be able to see the smile on the kid’s faces and being able to interact with them along with the feedback that we got from parents was great. It was truly amazing.”
The response was huge as more than 1,500 members of the Newtown community came to an indoor soccer facility to participate in the event. When they arrived, they were given a plethora of activities to take part in, including small-sided soccer games, Q&A sessions about the game and an opportunity to receive autographs from a number of soccer legends including Donovan, former LA Galaxy and U.S. National Team legend Cobi Jones, and former U.S. Women’s National Team star Mia Hamm.
During the event, Garcia manned a photo booth along with several other players and volunteers and was able to interact with the children and their parents. From his post, the always light-hearted Garcia encouraged kids to take funny photos while also sharing heart-to-heart talks with his fellow parents.
“All of those parents were just so brave,” Garcia said. “They’re trying to live their lives as best they could.”
After speaking with many of those who have gone through the unthinkable, Garcia admits that he’ll be hugging his own son a little tighter when he returns to Southern California.
“Absolutely,” Garcia said. “It was a great event. All the guys were very excited to be here and to be a part of it. It was a great experience.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com