Provide Equipment for Hometown Youths

This is Romario Blake mug shot! His crime – intoxicated with excitement to be apart of a two day soccer camp. I went to his uncle's house to request some help for the 2 day event, saw him and asked him if he wanted to attend the camp; he was elated! Isn't his smile infectious? Romario is 7, and if you are familiar with soccer, he has the same first name as one of Brazil's soccer star – Romario de Souza Faria. Unsurprisingly, Romario wants to become a soccer player.

Romario is one of over 60 kids that I took pictures of and collected some information from: name, age, shoe size, shirt size, and career. The main purpose for this information, as you might guess, is to provide some assistance for them to play the sport of their passion. (Ironically, I didn't tell Romario the purpose for collecting his info was to give him a pair of shoes, etc – he was just naturally high on soccer enthusiasm!) The kids profiles are found here.

Two days earlier (before I caught up with Romario), I had met with most of the other kids; I told them the purpose, collected their info and took the opportunity to genuinely expressed my interest in their social well being and theirfuture (career).

I expressed to them that couple decades ago I was about some of them age, with  the same passion and playing on the same field. And like several of them, I didn't have the bare essentials to play. So I played barefooted! Some were upfront to let me know that they want to play but just can't play barefooted – because of the stony condition of the field. I first told them that one of my main goals is to supply them with soccer shoes.

Then, I revealed that my interest to help is beyond just playing soccer:  it is about a using a passion as a path way to a profession (directly or indirectly). I did a quick poll about what they wanted to be and several of them wanted to become a footballer. I disclosed that that like many of them, it was my dream to become a professional footballer, but it didn&#39t; happen; however, I got a soccer scholarship and now am a Software Engineer – something I didn't dream about, didn't know about, much less to become one.

I informed them that it would be great if all of them who wanted to be a footballer turned out to be one – and a great one too; also, I was frank with them and told them that the statistics are not in their favor and that everyone should be thinking about an academic career – that school should come first. So just in case their non-academic dream doesn't materialize, they will have something else to fall back on. And for those who didn't fully understand how I got the scholarship, I emphasized that if I played soccer alone, it would not  have happened; it was a combination of soccer and academics. Additionally, I raised the issue that about age 35, its unlikely for someone to play soccer professionally; so in their case, they would have to think about life after soccer.

Romario with some some of the kids on Day 1 of Camp

Romario on Day 2 of camp

Romario in game with other kids

Romario distracted from the game – for a little photo op

Romario at the end of day 2 gets a pair of soccer shoes (he was 1 of several kids who got shoes that day)