CARSON, Calif. – With their array of US and international stars, the LA Galaxy have certainly made a splash in the soccer world. But perhaps equally important is the splash they’re making just down the road.
Amidst the busy week leading up to MLS Cup, a who’s who of the Galaxy organization turned up Wednesday afternoon at the Boys and Girls Club of Carson – a stone’s throw away from the Home Depot Center – to celebrate the beginning of a partnership that will see the team support the Club’s activities in the realms of both sport and academics.
The Galaxy and AEG, in partnership with Major League Soccer’s community outreach program, MLS W.O.R.K.S., will donate a multiuse sport court and equipment, create year-long sports programs facilitated by their development staff and beautify the Learning Center at the club.
“What we’re doing on Saturday is very important to us, but at least in my opinion, this is more important and this goes a lot further than a soccer game,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan explained to the assembled crowd, consisting mostly of the young children the club serves.
“And I think being a local Southern Californian, and there’s a few others who’ve grown up here as well, we care about this community, we care about Southern California and we want to see a bunch of you achieve your dreams like we did and we hope that this small token can help you get there.”
The event also presented an opportunity for the Galaxy to take their minds off the high-pressure buildup to MLS Cup and reinforce their presence in the community.
“I think it’s just our responsibility in the community and the soccer is very much secondary,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena told MLSsoccer.com. “If we can have an impact on the lives of young kids, we want to be part of that.”
And while the soccer may be what draws fans to the stadiums and television sets, the presence of the league in the community may well be what created the most lasting relationships.
“When the league was founded, we wanted to create what we called a “soccer nation” in America,” MLS Comissioner Don Garber told MLSsoccer.com. “In order to do that, you have to have great teams, great players, but to really be a sports league that matters, you have to have programs like MLS W.O.R.K.S.
"It doesn’t just happen just those two events, our teams are involved with MLS W.O.R.K.S. programs throughout the year, leaving behind a legacy for what we’re trying to do, which is to get people to care about this sport, but also be a little bit healthier and hopefully those less fortunate have a little bit of a better life."
And might one of the youths served by this refurbishment be inspired to play a few miles down the road sometime in the future?
“You never know,” Garber said. “[But] at this level, it’s not about player development, it’s about community development and trying to do our part.”