FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A former Fresno Fuego soccer player has kickstarted his own foundation. His mission is to make sure every kid has a ball.
Jesus Garcia played for the Fresno Fuego from 2009 to 2014. He says one of the biggest benefits of being a part of the club was engaging and giving back to the community, frequently helping with Fuego camps and clinics for the youth.
"Through that experience, I realized there was a need for players and kids that have opportunities but don't have to access to equipment. Ever since then I wanted to make sure that we were able to continue playing it forward. It's been my drive to be able to finally create something that can empower future generations," says Garcia.
Garcia now trains players at High Performance Academy in Clovis which is an elite soccer center. He initially started the HPA Foundation to provide programming for low-income families.
"Their only access to be able to have equipment was going to these programs, with the pandemic it didn't allow that to happen. So we had to find a way to pivot and be able to have access to these families so they can continue to play."
This week, the HPA team held a drive-through at Mosqueda Park and through donations, were able to provide children with a bag and ball.
"I actually grew up playing here on the weekends, so it brought some amazing memories back. So to be here now not as a player, but as an advocate to give back is pretty amazing," says Garcia.
Garcia trains professional soccer player Dakota Watterson who signed with Roc Nation a year ago. She teamed up with the foundation donating puma soccer balls.
"For the next generation, just lead by example. Taking after my older mentors, starting at a young age is always great. Just to see them smile, it's wonderful, it makes me smile knowing that they're happy with the stuff that we gave them."
The foundation hopes to raise 1,500 baskets this year. They plan on holding monthly drives in different communities throughout the Valley so that every child has an equal opportunity to play.
"Our website HPA foundation.com - there's all the information on how people can get involved whether that be monetary donations or volunteer service hours. We're always looking for more people, so we can impact more kids," says Garcia.
Changing the world and helping the Valley one ball at a time.
Good Sports: Former Fuego player starts HPA Foundation to give equipment to low-income families
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