On July 23rd, 150 Urban Initiatives participants attended an unforgettable match between the Chicago Fire and Manchester United at Soldier Field. These tickets were generously donated by the Chicago Fire Foundation and allowed teams from four UI schools to attend – those schools were Prieto Academy, Claremont Academy, Tarkington School and Daley Academy.
When the kids heard that Manchester United had traveled all the way from England – a place where “they speak like Harry Potter,” as one participant put it – they could barely contain their excitement!
Armed with thunder sticks, the youth cheered with all their might throughout the match. “Let’s go Chicago, let’s go!” was their favorite cheer. Their energetic support was quickly rewarded when the Fire struck first by scoring off an incredible header. Cory Gibb’s goal off of Marco Pappa’s perfectly-placed pass was a sight to see and the kids erupted into celebration.
It was a fast-paced and exciting first half, with many near-misses that kept the kids on their toes. Then, in the 66th minute, Manchester United’s star striker, Wayne Rooney, wowed the crowd with a crafty goal that evened the score.
When Manchester forward Nani did a celebratory back flip after scoring United’s second goal, the kids could not believe their eyes. Debevyon, a participant from Claremont Academy, expressed wide-eyed disbelief to his teammates as he shouted, “He did a back flip! He did a back flip!”
Shadon, another player from Claremont, observed the game closely and was incredibly impressed with the skill and strategy of the players. Shadon told his coach that he wanted to learn how to dribble and pass just like the Fire and United players.
Urban Initiatives extends its sincerest gratitude to the Chicago Fire and its Foundation and to Manchester United for giving our youth the experience of a lifetime. Urban Initiatives would also like to thank the Chicago Park District and Soldier Field Management for allowing UI to host a healthy picnic at Soldier Field.
Joceline Razo, a participant from Tarkington, summed up the group’s experience best when she exclaimed on the bus ride home, "This was the best day ever!"
For the full photo album from the game