On July 17 and 18, I had the extreme pleasure of being an assistance coach for the Rising Stars U-14 soccer team out of Sioux Falls.
Our team is made up of all African American players who are from refugee families. Brookings was the first official out-of-town tournament these boys had ever played in. Even though it is only 45 minutes away, this was a new experience for all the boys.
Any soccer tournament we go to (this is only the second tournament they had ever played in), I always get a little worried about how we will be received there. Obviously our players look different, we dress a little different, they speak a different language to each other with some English mixed in there as well, and we play a little different style of soccer than maybe some other teams.
But that is who we are, and we are proud.
I could not have greater things to say about the Brookings soccer community and the people of Brookings in general for their warm welcome.
We were received with open arms, and countless people reached out on how they could help our team going forward. It was great to have people come up and ask about where the boys were from and ask about their culture.
To the people of Brookings, we say “thank you” as you made us feel like one of your own.