The Los Angeles Rams recently partnered with Arsenal Football Club to give LA youth the chance to learn the fundamentals of American football and soccer from professionals in both sports. On Saturday, July 13 and Tuesday, July 16, the two teams co-hosted free "FootbALL" clinics for youth in Inglewood and Watts. Participants learned basic soccer and football skills while rotating through different drills and receiving instruction and encouragement from Rams and Arsenal players. Participants also received a Rams/Arsenal co-branded "FootbALL" t-shirt.
Rams Wide Receiver Jalen Greene attended the clinic on Saturday which took place at Champions Field in his hometown of Inglewood. Greene commented on how fortunate he felt to be back where he began playing football and to teach kids how to be successful in the sport he loves.
"Inglewood is the city that raised me, and it means a lot to be in the exact same place where I started playing football," said Greene. "Just to be around these kids and be able to contribute to their success and see the smiles on their faces is a good sight to see…I've always given back to my community from high school up until now, but I never thought I would be able to do it in the NFL and be at home. It's just a blessing. I keep harping on that because that's truly what it is. I'm home and I get to represent my family and my city."
Greene shared his perspective on what he's learned about the responsibilities of a professional athlete. He wanted the kids to understand that reaching their goals would require sacrifice and he felt that this would be valuable to learn at an early age.
"You have to always keep the end goal in mind," advised Greene. "You have to sacrifice a lot for the things that you truly want and the things that are truly worth having. Not too many people understand that, so getting people to understand that at a young age is valuable for the growth and maturation of a kid."
Greene even gave Arsenal Captain Laurent Koscielny and Striker Eddie Nketiah some pointers on how to properly throw a football but concluded "I have to work on my coaching skills a little bit. I'm still in my player phase right now."
During Tuesday's clinic at Dymally High School in Watts, Rams Cheerleader Nikelle G. commented on her excitement about the collaboration between the Rams and Arsenal. With the Rams hosting the Cincinnati Bengals at Wembley Stadium in London during the regular season, she believes its unique that Arsenal also had the chance to play internationally in the United States and connect with Angelinos during their stay.
"I think the fact that we have Arsenal partnering with the Rams is really cool because we're going to London for our game in October and they're also playing here this week. I like that we're bringing both organizations together and teaching both sports," said Nikelle.
As a professional athlete herself, Nikelle dabbled in a few different sports as a child and saw the value in the Watts youth gaining skills from both football and soccer.
"I actually started playing soccer when I was little before I moved to softball. It taught me a lot about working with other people as part of a team and developing respect for coaches," said Nikelle. "Being active in any way helps with dance because a big part of it is being physically fit and learning how to represent yourself and your team or organization off the field."
Jovan Olivera, who graduated from Rowan Avenue Elementary School in Watts and will attend Griffith Middle School next year, enjoyed learning new skills and the opportunity to challenge himself in two sports in the same day.
"I got to learn new skills and new tricks in both sports. I really enjoyed playing soccer because I got to meet new people who have skills that I can learn from," said Olivera. "Also, in football, they taught us how to tackle using proper techniques, so I don't injure myself. What I learned from everything today is that hard work and dedication will help make me a better athlete."
During the clinics, the Rams worked alongside community partner Beyond the Bell, an organization whose goal is to provide high quality, safe, and supervised education, enrichment, and recreation programs that engage and inspire learning and achievement outside of school for all children in the Los Angeles Unified School District. They work to strengthen their programs by building partnerships with those committed to the same purpose in the greater Los Angeles Community.
As Director of Community Outreach and Partnerships for Beyond the Bell, Howard Serpas was responsible for helping to put the events together and pulling kids from different schools around Watts. He enjoyed watching the kids be active outside while having fun with their friends.
"These kids are having an amazing time," said Serpas. "The minute the Rams came back to LA, they were very impactful when it came to the community. They reached out to LA Unified and Beyond the Bell, and our kids love it. Having football and having a competitive football team, one of the best out there, is amazing for them. Anything that incentivizes them to stay in school, stay after school, and build themselves up as people is always a great thing for us."