This article was written by members of the Sounders FC & RAVE Foundation Sports Media Institute. The SMI provides a select number of students the opportunity to learn and explore professional skills in the context of Sports Media and Major League Soccer. This program provides a unique opportunity for rising seventh, eighth and ninth grade students in the Puget Sound region, as it focuses on using Sounders FC soccer as a vehicle for empowerment and early career exploration.
On a sunny August afternoon, people gathered around the soccer cage at Valley Ridge Park while the Seattle Sounders van blasted music to pump up the arriving guests. An ice cream truck set up as more and more people arrived all anxiously waiting to see the opening of this project that took four months and many partners to accomplish: A new and improved mini soccer pitch in replacement of the old one that once stood in its place.
With the help of many such as RAVE Foundation, Delta Airlines and Highline Public Schools, Sounders FC was able to share the goal and vision to provide a safe and accessible place for children in the community to play soccer and be active.
The opening ceremony started off with RAVE Foundation’s Maya Mendoza-Exstrom, who thanked the crowd for coming and all the partners who helped make this pitch possible for all the community’s youth that was present.
Sounders FC midfielder Cristian Roldan poses with local kids at the unveiling | Charis Wilson
She introduced the crowd to Eriberto Saavedra Felix, also known as Eri, who’s a member of the community and a Sounders Sports Media Institute alumni. Eri’s speech revolved around how he felt about the pitch and his gratitude towards all parties that helped make it possible.
After Eri’s speech, Delta Airlines Chief Seattle Pilot Tom Eckert spoke on behalf of Delta Airlines, one of the partners who made this pitch possible to bring joy and excitement to the community for years to come.
After Eckert spoke, Mendoza-Exstrom handed the mic off to Deputy Mayor of Seatac City Clyde Hill. Mayor Hill thanked RAVE and the Sounders for making the pitch possible.
Mendoza-Exstrom returned to the mic and pledged to not only the city of SeaTac, but mainly to the kids in attendance that RAVE Foundation will provide them with futsal balls for life. Maya hands Mayor Hill a bag full of futsal balls to be used on the fields and given to the youth in attendance.
Luis Silva signs autographs for young Sounders fans at the event | Charis Wilson
As Mendoza-Exstrom wrapped up the ceremony, Sounders FC players Cristian Roldan and Luis Silva honored three students from the area as stewards of the pitch with Sounders FC jerseys.
Roldan and Silva, along with Tacoma Defiance players, then handed soccer balls to every kid in attendance. The atmosphere filled with joy and excitement. The SeaTac community will have many years filled with joy and lots of soccer and each kid will have a free and safe place to be a kid and be active thanks to Sounders FC, Rave Foundation, and Delta Airlines.