By Amanda Scurlock
The Los Angeles Rams collaborated with English Premier League team Arsenal Football Club to host the “FootbALL” clinic for the youth in Inglewood. The youth clinic meshed drills from both soccer and football, taking place on two fields at Edward Vincent Park.
Members of Arsenal FC, such as Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka, were in attendance and some even received throwing lessons from Rams rookie Jalen Greene. Greene signed with the Rams as a free agent in March after a strong career at USC and Serra High school.
“It’s where I started, it’s my roots,” Greene said, “Getting to see these kids chasing the same dream I had 15 years ago, they’re me, they’re a younger version of me.”
Reginald Blaylock, sergeant of community affairs at the Inglewood Police Department, noted how young athletes are learning more than one sport and the event helps them get physical fitness.
“It gives the kids an opportunity to see professional players, whether to be the soccer team or a football team,” Blaylock said. “It gives the kids a chance to see someone who came from their neighborhood.”
Inglewood mayor James Butts was also in attendance to cheer the kids on during drills. Clad in a Rams jersey, Butts expressed his joy the Rams and Arsenal FC are instilling wisdom into the youth.
“This is an epic event in the city of Inglewood,” Butts said. “We’re supporting these children, giving them an experience they never could have dreamed of, to be in contact with premier sports teams, premier athletes to motivate them to achieve their own dream.”
Elementary, middle and high school-aged children partook in drills, Soccer stand-outs dabbled in running routes and prep football players dribbled soccer balls around cones. Among the participants was Makayla Wilson who is a forward on the Wiseburn-Da Vinci girls’ soccer team, the clinic was inspirational to her.
“The fact that we got to meet Arsenal and the L.A. Rams today and play along with them, it was great to do,” Wilson said. “I’ve been playing soccer since I was seven and I’ve always enjoyed participating in different camps, any opportunity I get to play and touch on the ball, I really love it.”
Marcus Young of West Charter High School was able to practice calling out passes and making better touches on the ball at the event. He looked forward to gaining some knowledge from Arsenal FC.
“[I] wanted to meet some of the players, like the goalie,” Young said. “I’m always looking for opportunities to advance how I play and new techniques I can learn to improve my footwork.”
Ace Jackson of Bancroft Middle school came to the event to improve his football skills and happy to interact with pro players.
“It was really cool,” Jackson said. “I didn’t expect I was going to meet them.”
The Rams first preseason home game is against the Dallas Cowboys on August 17. The 2020 season is projected to be the Rams first year in the new stadium in Inglewood.
“So much diversity here with both sports,” said Rams Community Affairs and Engagement Specialist Johnathan Franklin. “Community members and bringing everyone together shows what sports can do, that unity, that perspective that it brings.”
This article originally appeared in The Los Angeles Sentinel.