FC Dallas midfielder Eric Ávila remembers a few
missed opportunities from his youth. An avid San Diego Chargers and L.A. Lakers fan while growing up in
Southern California, Ávila says there were times he wanted to go out and watch
a professional game, but it was either too far away or too expensive. Now that
Ávila is a professional athlete himself, he and teammate Brek Shea got together
and found a way to give more kids a chance to see their first live professional
“We just wanted to do something for the community, for the kids to come out and watch a game or two,” says Ávila.
Ávila and Shea joined forces prior to the start of the 2010 season and purchased 200 tickets to FC Dallas Saturday home games. Each Saturday a new group of kids, usually those in at-risk programs around the DFW area, get to enjoy an FC Dallas game courtesy of the duo. The long-time teammates take the experience one step further with a post-game meet and greet on the field, where they make it a point to try and meet and sign autographs for everyone they've brought out.
When one group was unable to stay at Pizza Hut Park late enough to participate in the meet and greet, Shea offered to make a special trip to their facility to meet them one afternoon.
“I feel like we’re
privileged and we’ve had a lot of good things come our way,” Shea says. “We
have a great opportunity to do what we love. We feel like we need to pay it back.”
So far, 50 of the tickets the teammates purchased have been put to good use by local children. The duo picked Section 102 for their special kids’ section so they can see the groups when they run in and out of the tunnel. But they want to add a sign in the area, marking the section as theirs -- that is, if they can ever agree on words for the sign. Should it be “Brek and Ávi” or “Ávi and Brek”?
Go to the FC Dallas Facebook page to voice your opinion on what the section should be named.
Shea and Avila say they also hope to continue growing the program, adding more opportunities for local youth to get the game day experience -- and now they’re asking for help from the fans. If you would like to help Brek and Ávi give more kids the joy of a game day experience, you can make a donation on the FC Dallas Foundation Kicks for Kids page.