I walked up the tunnel from the field shortly before Thursday night’s Kids vs. Pros match, an event that would pit 100 kids (50 each half) against professionals from Orlando City, Orlando Pride, and OCB, and I heard something that put a smile on my face. 100 kids chanted the “Orlando! City!” call and repeat filling the underbelly of the stadium. That smile wouldn’t leave for the rest of the night.
From the open to close, the night was filled with these little moments that made you remember why we all love this beautiful game.
Take the opening whistle, when the ridiculousness of this 50 vs. 11 scenario came to life. No regard for formation or position, just a horde of children sprinting to the ball like a “flock of birds”, as my fellow Content Director Marcos Peres observed during the match.
Or when, after scoring their second goal, the kids sprinted back up the field as “Turn Down For What” blasted over the sound system.
Then Carlos Rivas got a red card.
Kaká’s son scored a PK with his father wearing a grin from ear-to-ear.
Antonio Nocerino stole the assistant referees flag and started giving out yellow cards.
Joe Bendik played striker and Servando Carrasco finished the match between the pipes — wearing Earl Edward Jr.’s kit.
The list goes on.
The thing I’ll remember the most is the smiles and the laughter. Not just me. The players, the kids, their parents, the coaches, and everyone else in attendance. In a sport that we all take so seriously it was nice to have a night where we could bring the community together and just have some good old fashioned fun — win or lose. The kids did win by the way. 7-3.
Something tells me this won’t be a night any of those 100 aspiring soccer stars will forget in the near future. Who knows, maybe we’ll see one lacing it up with City or Pride in about 10 years time.
If you missed it, you can watch the hilarity in it's entirety on our new LionNation app. Shameless plug I know, but I'm the digital guy so what do you expect?
I’ll end by making one quick appeal. Kay Rawlins and the Orlando City Foundation, can we do this again next year? Please?