On Wednesday, October 11th, D.C. United and Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) teamed up to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Sixty youth from LAYC after-school programs in D.C. and Maryland visited Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium and participated in a two-hour event that included a soccer clinic and panel discussion.

The youth enjoyed an hour of exercise, co-ed drills, and games led by D.C. United staff and players. After a short break, youth attended a panel discussion with D.C. United midfielders Luciano Acosta and Marcelo Sarvas, D.C. United academy coach Nate Kish, team operations director Francisco Tobar, and moderator Moises Linares, from Telemundo. Panelists discussed careers in soccer and sports; prospects for youth athletes, especially in light of a growing Latino population; and the future of soccer in the U.S. Personal stories about the journeys that led them to a career in soccer and sports motivated the youth to thrive for excellence in school and in their daily lives. Youth also learned about opportunities to engage in D.C. United’s soccer academy and were thrilled at the chance to take photos with and get autographs and souvenirs from the panelists!

For many LAYC youth, soccer is not only a fun sport to play, it is a way to connect with peers, maintain physical and mental health, and preserve their identity and connection with their countries of origin. We would like to thank D.C. United and especially Mr. Victor Melara, director of community relations, for hosting this event and being so welcoming towards and inclusive of our youth!

Click here for the full photo album

Read what some of the youth participants had to say about the experience:

I thought the event was really cool. It was really nice meeting all the players from the team D.C. United and learning different things about soccer, like dribbling and passing. It was nice to hear the players’ point of view. It was really good! Thanks! Priya

I really enjoyed the event. I thought that it was nice that we were able to practice on the field and see how they saw the crowd from their view, and it was also really nice to see the panel and hear their point of view and to be able to meet the players and ask them questions. Erika

El evento me parecio muy Bueno! [I thought the event was really good!] Cesar

El evento fue muy divertido. Me diverti conociendo los jugadores y jugando. [The event was a lot of fun. I enjoyed meeting the players and playing soccer.] Josue

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