A summer Tuesday afternoon practice turned into a surprise experience for the West End community youth players. Starting practice with very few details, coach Joel Apudo led the community team through their normal paces. However, waiting in the wings was Michael Parkhurst, the captain of MLS side Atlanta United, who would join training on the StationSoccer-West End pitches and announce to the youth players that they will be attending the team’s August 11th match. This incredible experience would have never been possible without the generosity of Georgia Power and Atlanta United.
“Community is an important pillar in the motto for Georgia Power,” said Mike Anderson, president & CEO of the Georgia Power Foundation. “If you take care of communities, the rest will take care of itself.”
Soccer in the Streets works to impact the communities throughout Metro Atlanta. The organization does this not only by bringing in vibrant green spaces to dead spaces but also bringing the awareness of soccer to these communities.
“Part of our job as a professional athlete is to give back to the community,” said Parkhurst. “Hopefully, some of these kids have a dream to be in my shoes one day. I want to be a positive role model for them.”
The surprise visit was once-in-a-lifetime experience for these youth players. Being able to practice and learn from a professional athlete was awesome. Then, to watch an MLS game from a suite and walk onto the pitch at halftime for a video presentation made these young athletes dream big.
“To have Parkhurst and Georgia Power present the kids with this opportunity and bring the importance of this partnership to their knowledge is incredible,” said Tony Carter, Soccer in the Streets Director of Programs. “When we walked out on the pitch at halftime to watch the surprise video recap, the look on the kids smiling faces let me know that we are doing the right thing with our program. These opportunities bring so much joy to our players.”
Check out the video and pictures below to watch this experience!