ROCHESTER, Minn. – “I always loved playing soccer and there’s not really an area around here to play with people around here. We’re used to playing the streets and that’s kind of dangerous.”
Imagine sending your child out to play soccer in the streets of Rochester having near misses with cars.
For Giovani Hernandez, the son of Humberto, that’s been too much of a reality.
“All the time to get the ball and trying to get out of the way before a car comes,” said Giovani.
The Meadow Park neighborhood has been working toward creating a safe place for the neighborhood to come together and enjoy the sport they love. Thanks to the Hope Summit Church who opened a side lot for the community to play, and the help of other agencies around Rochester, they now have that accommodation.
For Humberto, it has been a long time coming.
“Well, it’s been a while,” he said. “I’ve lived here for about three years now and every time we wanted to play soccer we’d have to go to a different place. So we were waiting for this and now that we have it, we’re excited.”
Another person who is excited to see this happen is Abdi Krim-Hassen who was a member of the Somalian National Team but sought refuge in the United States. He hopes to establish a rich soccer culture in this neighborhood.
“I want to give knowledge about soccer, how they play,” he said. “I want to show them the way they play technically. You know there are children that cannot run so physically also.”
City councilman Patrick Keane was at the kickoff event and hopes this will knit the community together.
“Rochester has become more diverse over the last 20 years and a lot of the cultures stay together and that’s good for their culture. But we also have to find better ways for them to integrate and know what the city services are and how they can interact with others in the community, and not just their community. I think programs like this will help get us there.”
For parents like Humberto, they are thankful for the effort of the city leaders and organizations that made this program possible.
“That’s what we were waiting for. One person can’t do much, but if we do it together, it’s a lot easier.”
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