Inside the NYPD soccer team’s humanitarian mission

This special group of Finest is playing the field to help those less fortunate.

The globe-trotting boys in blue comprise the NYPD’s not-for-profit Men’s Soccer Team, donating their time and money to fuel humanitarian work both at home and abroad while enjoying the sport.

“The team’s motto has always been, ‘Through the sport of soccer, anything is possible,’ ” said NYPD Officer Mike Mancuso.

“Many players are immigrants to the United States who had the dream of becoming a New York City police officer,’’ he said. “The diversity of the NYPD Soccer Team embodies the department.’’

The soccer team — founded by NYPD Detective Rudy Blake in 1988 and currently managed by Detective Ron Mejia — has operated local clinics for kids as well as visited everywhere from Costa Rica, Peru, Ecuador and South Korea, many of the places were its members emigrated from.

While on the road, the group plays exhibition games against local teams, conducts soccer clinics and donates gear such as balls, cleats, cones and pinnies.

After noticing “a correlation between sports and education,’’ the team began donating supplies such as books, pencils and crayons, too, Mancuso said.

“Their day generally consists of visiting two to three schools and neighborhoods a day’’ Mancuso said. “They have had great success in areas where gang violence, drugs and alcohol take up much of the kids’ daily lives.’’

The team of about 40 elite-playing members is made up of both current and retired New York City cops, including undercover and patrol officers.

In addition to its humanitarian work, the team has done some stellar playing.

They won the World Police and Fire games in Fairfax, Va., in 2015 and the North American Police Soccer Tournament in Nashville, Tenn., in 2018.

They “attend practices, games, tournaments and trips all on their own time and money,” Mancuso said.

Sponsors help make up some of the cost.

The team was leaving Tuesday for a six-day trip to the island of Grenada, where one of their members is from.

They have two matches scheduled there — against the prime minister’s team and one fielded by the Royal Grenada Police Force.

In Grenada, the Finest players also will visit 25 schools and youth organizations, conducting clinics and donating items.

They will be honoring a special child, too — a young girl with a rare bone disease, Mancuso said. She will be bestowed the team’s “Perserverance’’ award.

The team’s sponsors for the trip include the New York Red Bulls, John Jay College Women’s Soccer,, Promo Caribbean and CEEN TV who will be filming the visit.

Source: Read Full Article