Harrison, NJ- The New York Red Bulls and NYPD “Finest” Soccer Team recently returned from Colombia, where they completed their fifth year of the “Soccer for Children-Breaking Borders” program.
Leading the group was Red Bulls Senior Director of Communications Ernesto Motta and the Lieutenant Ronald Mejia of the NYPD soccer team who, along with 18 fellow policemen, made a successful tour through the cities of Medellin and Manizales (the town where Red Bulls forward Juan Agudelo was born).
During the stay in Medellin they conducted four soccer clinics and put on two more in Manizales. All told, they donated 200 soccer balls and more than 1,700 soccer jerseys to underprivileged children.
The group was received by the highest authorities of the mayor’s office and City Council of Medellin, in acknowledging the charitable work that the group did in Colombia. The National Police of Colombia, represented by General Prada, honored Ernesto Motta and Ronald Mejia with the Shield of The National Police of Colombia, the organizations highest honor bestowed upon foreign representatives.
The National Police of Colombia, on behalf of Colonel Gomez, provided two planes to fly the representatives and the donations from Medellin to Manizales.
“Each year we are more surprised by the response of the children who we visit. We always go with the sense that it is the least we can do, but it’s with heart,” said Lieutenant Mejia. “Knowing that we have to wait a year to do this again makes the sense stronger. Hopefully we will be able to do more, but not lose hope that the program will continue growing.”
For the first time the delegation also contributed monetary donations, thanks to the collection made by members of the New York Red Bulls Front Office staff and by the group who travelled to Colombia. They used the donations to buy milk, cereal, cookies, jelly and chocolates that were distributed in Commune 8 of Medellin.
“This new experience of donating food to the commune most in need in Medellin was incredible. We played soccer, drew many smiles with the rest of the donations, but above all, we came with our hearts filled of joy from the care that we received,” said Motta. “The boys of the NYPD paid for their own expenses and also contributed cash to buy more materials and to be able to do their share in another way.”
The group relied on the collaboration of The National Police of Colombia, the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Avianca, The Colombian-American Center in Medellin and Manizales, by Mr. Marcos Wittig and Red Bull Colombia, who made this trip to Colombia possible.