Throughout its first two years in Los Angeles, one of the main goals of LAFC has been to go far beyond simply playing in Los Angeles. The club aims to become part of the fabric of the city, in the same way that the Dodgers and the Lakers have become emblematic of the city, forming important chapters in its history and identity.
In the week leading up to its home opener against Sporting KC, the club is reaffirming this mission through a series of community and service events throughout the Los Angeles area. From reading to children to making tacos, the week allowed LAFC players to meet with fans and make an impact in the local community that has already embraced the club as its own.
The largest event of the week was the announcement of a full-scale field refurbishment at Bud Carson Middle School on Tuesday. The club partnered with Chevron to install a professional-sized grass field with updated equipment, including new goals, over the next year.
The project is one of two refurbishments that LAFC and Chevron will provide in the Los Angeles area this year as part of a multi-year community partnership. The pair will also work together to create the Chevron Soccer Academy to offer professional-level training, and will host soccer combines for girls and boys in March at the LAFC training facility. With this partnership, the two brands hope to expand access to soccer to children throughout the city.
“We are thrilled to welcome Chevron to the Black & Gold family,” LAFC owner Tom Penn said. “Chevron shares in our Club’s ambition to inspire, develop and elevate the Southern California community. We look forward to working with Chevron to be a force for good in Los Angeles.”
Midfielder Lee Nguyen served as the star guest at the announcement on Tuesday, unveiling the official plan alongside executives from Chevron. After the initial presentation, Nguyen suited up to kick around with the school’s students, running them through drills and posing for pictures with excited fans.
A force for good.
— LAFC (@LAFC) February 27, 2019
Although the Chevron unveiling was the banner event of the week, other LAFC players took part in charity events throughout the city all week long. On Wednesday, defender Mohamed El-Munir and forward Josh Peréz visited the Solano Community Garden to donate tools and assist in the garden for the day. The pair got their hands dirty while weeding and planting, trading jokes about making their moms proud as they worked with fellow staff members and volunteers.
“It’s an honor,” Peréz said. “I grew up in Montebello so it’s always nice helping out a lot of people and giving back to the community. It makes me happy.”
Across the city in Boyle Heights, defenders Steven Beitashour and Eddie Segura and forward Diego Rossi headed to Sunrise Elementary School to read to students on Dr. Seuss’ Birthday. The event was part of the team’s long-time partnership with LA’s Best, an organization dedicated to helping the emotional and educational growth of young people throughout the city. The players spent the day reading to students and helping them with Dr. Seuss-related crafts.
For one student, Beitashour’s visit was particularly special — a young fan in an LAFC hat, scarf and jersey watched him eagerly throughout the reading session, then excitedly approached Beitashour for a picture and a high five. To Beitashour, the interaction reflected the impact that the club can have beyond the pitch by providing a positive influence on young people.
“I think it’s a really great thing that we do,” Beitashour said. “It shows that we care and it shows about the relationship that we have with them.”
LAFC also hosted community events throughout the week, including its signature meet-and-greet events at Los Angeles staples such as Pink’s Hot Dogs. The events took place throughout the sprawling downtown area, aiming to put a face on the club in the days leading up to its home opener.
As he helped to fill tacos at Chica’s Tacos on Tuesday, forward Christian Ramirez couldn’t help but reflect on his path to his current position. Ramirez grew up in Los Angeles, and as he rose as a soccer player, he kept envisioning how he could make an impact on his hometown. Now, as a line stretched out the door with young fans eager to meet Ramirez, he couldn’t help but relish the moment.
“Any time we get to be here in Los Angeles and do stuff in the city is special to me, being that I’m from [Los Angeles],” Christian Ramirez said. “Being with LAFC and being able to do these types of events in the city…. it’s really special to give back and see smiles on kids’ faces.”