June 6, 2008

A better place for soccer, kids in National City

By Pablo Jaime Sáinz

Julian Cortez, a 15 year old who attends Sweetwater High School, visits the Boys & Girls Club in National City almost everyday.

There, he spends a couple of hours playing sports, usually basketball and soccer.

He said the club offers him a positive environment where he’s been able to make new friends that also enjoy sports.

“Everybody is really friendly here,” he said.

So when he found out that The Home Depot was giving the Boys & Girls Club a major renovation in several areas of the club facilities he was excited.

“It will make this an even better place to hang out with friends,” Julian said. “I’m sure it will make more people to come and use the programs they have here.”

Ramón Ramírez (right) works with volunteers to spruce up soccer park.

The Home Depot and load of 150 volunteers from its San Diego stores were at the Boys & Girls Club in National City on Tuesday, June, 3, as part of its partnership with the Mexican National Soccer Team to give back to local communities by renovating community centers in four U.S. cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles, and Phoenix.

The Home Depot is working with deserving Hispanic community partners the day before scheduled Mexican National Team matches in each market to complete the renovation projects. In San Diego, El Tri faced Argentina at Qualcomm Stadium on Wed-nesday, June 4.

Soccer legend Ramón Ramírez, who recently retired from Chivas USA, played in the 1994 and 1998 World Cups with the Mexican National Soccer Team, was at the National City event signing autographs and taking pictures with kids who attended his soccer clinic that day.

The project includes landscaping, painting and repairing play spaces, among other service efforts.

“As a proud supporter of the Mexican National Soccer Team since 2003, we are honored to work with these amazing players to make a positive, lasting impact on the lives of hundreds of children that use these facilities everyday,” said Frank Bifulco, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at The Home Depot. “This effort reinforces our unparalleled commitment to give back to local communities in a meaningful way.”

The soccer clinic was conducted in Kimball Park and the Sweetwater High School 2007 CIF Champs and National City junior high schools’ (Granger & National Middle) soccer players along with some Boys & Girls Club Soccer team players participated.

“We are proud to support the philanthropic initiatives of our partners, The Home Depot and the Mexican National Team,” said Kathy Carter, Executive Vice President, Soccer United Marketing, the exclusive U.S. promoter and marketing representative for the Mexican National Team. “This program is about giving back to the fans and communities that not only support the game of soccer, but truly need our help.”

The Home Depot became the official sponsor of the Mexican National Team and its U.S. tour in 2003 through a multi-year marketing partnership with Soccer United Marketing.

For Boys & Girls Club National City Board President Allie Pruitt said that this make-over will be truly appreciated by the children and teens that are part of the club.

“These children take notice of what community members like The Home Depot do for them,” she said. “They are very grateful and they are very alert about how their club will look like thanks to this.”

The Boys & Girls Club National City has more than 2,000 members, and more than 250 kids use its facilities everyday, Pruitt said.

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