Our Humans of NYCFC series continues with a story which perfectly demonstrates the power of this beautiful game of ours.
Officer Raymond Ortiz of the NYPD’s 23rd Precinct in East Harlem is one of the cops who has been volunteering at City in the Community’s Saturday Night Lights program over recent months.
In association with the Manhattan District Attorney's office, members of the 23rd Precinct visit a monthly interactive session with the kids where they dress down out of uniform, play soccer and host Q&As with the young participants.
Today, NYPD Community Affairs donated vans so that Raymond, his colleagues and the SNL kids could travel up and take in an NYCFC training session at SUNY Purchase training center.
This is Raymond’s story…
The kids can get a little nervous seeing us, whether we’re in uniform or not, and a lot of people, their opinions of the police are what they see in the media and in the news. So, when we play soccer, it’s a lot more relaxed. The kids get to see that we’re just normal people just like they are. It’s a good time for everybody; for the kids, for us, and for the staff.
Originally, our Community Affairs officers put us in contact with the DA’s office and they asked me if we could come by some time and do an event with the program participants. That was when we did it a first time, and we’ve done it a few times since. It’s a great program.
We usually come, whether we go to the boys or the girls site, and we’ll do a question and answer session with the kids, we’ll play a couple of scrimmages with them. It’s great because the kids get to know us and we see them in the streets and everything. They feel comfortable to come up to us as we get to build our bond between the kids and the police.
Anytime we’re asked to come by, or when there are any events on, we’ll definitely go. The kids are great, the staff are great, it’s an awesome program. It keeps the kids safe and out of the streets.
I wasn’t the biggest soccer fan growing up, but now that I see how much these kids love it, I’m more interested, and we try to come every chance we get.
To learn more about the CITC Saturday Night Lights program, click here, or watch the video from their end of season tournament earlier this summer below...