With two home games in one week on Wednesday and Saturday, one could reasonably assume that professional soccer players would be laying low and putting all their energy into their upcoming matches.
This, however, is not the case with Revolution players Shalrie Joseph, Chris Tierney, Kevin Alston and Darrius Barnes who constantly make an effort to give back to the community that they call home.
The foursome was among the notable attendees at the grand opening of a brand new soccer facility at The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corp Community Center in Boston. The center is a state-of-the-art community facility that is designed to provide youth and families with a safe place to build their bodies, minds and spirits.
“It was Joan Kroc’s goal to provide a community center in areas that would otherwise not be able to have a world class facility like this,” said Executive Director of the Kroc Center Drew Forster.
The Kroc Center is a 90,000 square foot facility on more than six acres of land, and includes classroom space for educational courses, a performing arts center, extensive health and fitness center and an indoor water park complete with a lazy river and water slide.
“It’s about teaching people in the education department, it’s about recreation and getting people healthy in the fitness center and it’s about a whole lot of fun and teaching valuable life lessons,” said Forster.
While at the facility, Joseph and his teammates helped to christen the turf soccer field by giving the children a talk about the ability of sports to promote a healthy and safe lifestyle in underprivileged communities.
Joseph himself turned to soccer as a healthy lifestyle alternative as a child growing up in Brooklyn, keeping him in organized activities and away from the inherent dangers that came with living as a child in an economically challenged neighborhoods.
Since then, Joseph has created several camps and club teams in order to keep underprivileged children in sports and off the streets, something that Forster hopes to contribute to by way of the Kroc Center.
“We’ve got kids here today from our Kids F.E.A.S.T. program, which is Food, Enrichment, Arts, Spiritual development and Teaching,” he said.
Forster said having a role models like Alston, Barnes, Joseph and Tierney visit the facility is a tremendous opportunity for the kids to see just how far they can go in life, despite coming from humble beginnings.
“It’s a free program because we knew we needed a space where those kids could come in and be part of that drop in program and it’s really about helping kids discover more about themselves through education and recreation,” Forster said.
“Someone like Shalrie, who comes from a similar background, coming out to speak to them and invest in them and just to get up close and personal with them, it’s a once in a lifetime experience that will go a long way for these kids,” Forster continued, as Joseph took a knee to teach several young children “how to be cheerleaders.”
The Revs players wrapped up their day by holding a question and answer session with the children, signing autographs and competing in a spirited “goal celebration dance competition” with many of the young aspiring soccer players at the Kroc Center.
Ultimately, the players enjoyed getting out and giving back to the community, especially to a cause that they hold close to their hearts. Consistently wanting to promote the benefits of their sport and helping their community in any way they can, the athletes accomplished just that.
“I’ve already heard the kids saying how much fun they’ve had and how they can’t wait to get out and see some games,” Forster said. “They’re really excited to see the guys and I know it will translate into bigger things in their lives.”