In an effort to help youth stay away from the violence and drugs that are constant temptations in the city, Ryogoku Soccer Academy, 816SFC, along with the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD), and Ollama Coffeehouse partnered to create a soccer festival that brought the community together at Prospect Plaza Park this past Saturday.
Players from both Ryogoku Soccer Academy and 816SFC played, as the older members helped out the younger ones with skills.
The festival had a wide variety of activities for kids of all ages ranging from bouncy houses for the toddlers to soccer matches for the older kids.
“Everyone’s getting along, everybody’s playing, there’s no violence,” Northeast resident Lasha Baker said. “I think that it’s good that people sponsor these types of events, people put their own money and their own work into these types of events to help out the community. Free food. There’s people out there that have no food.”
Along with free food, snacks and prizes were offered, as well as resources from Mattie Rhodes Center.
“I think these kinds of events are important for the community,” KCPD Officer Marcus Smith said. “I think sometimes the immigrant community could be kind of marginalized to some extent just because of the differences in language abilities and things like that.”
Hector Solario, Ambassador of 816SFC, said that he believes the Northeast community, as big as it is, can come together and help stray the youth away from drugs and gangs.
“I think the most beautiful thing is for the kids to have a safe place to play soccer,” Solario said.
While the older kids were playing soccer, the younger ones were being entertained by a clown and all sorts of prizes.
“It’s great for the kids to get together with other kids from the neighborhood and have fun,” Northeast resident Michael Hawk said.
Solario’s son, Moy Solario, the director and coach for 816SFC, said they plan on hosting similar events every two or three months in the future.