New Yorkers rising up together to meet unprecedented challenges is in the fabric of this great city.
Through the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve seen countless examples of the community-minded selflessness and resilience associated with New York City and we’ve been inspired by those who have raised a hand and stepped up to help their fellow citizens.
In this spirit, we are setting out to reflect what’s truly undeNYable about our city and the people who make up our extended NYCFC family, all doing whatever it takes today to be back together again tomorrow through the sport we love.
undeNYable is a series of stories here on NYCFC.com, holding up members of the NYCFC family who’ve shown the meaning of "For The City", coming through for their fellow New Yorkers when it has mattered most.
Brandi Daniels has been a part of New York City Football Club since the Club’s 2015 inaugural season. The Long Island native first began working as a Brand Ambassador but has since become a Community Relations Specialist with City in the Community (CITC), the charity foundation proudly supported by NYCFC that uses the power of soccer to promote health, education, and leadership development and create safe community spaces throughout the five boroughs.
When given the choice between soccer or baseball at just the age of four, Brandi chose to play soccer. Although she started out as a forward, she became drawn to the goalkeeper position as the years went on. Brandi continued to play soccer all year round, only taking breaks in the short offseason to play basketball as cross training. She continued to play soccer at the collegiate level until she was faced with the difficult decision of pursuing a professional soccer career or entering the workforce.
“When you're still young, you make the decision on what you're going to do after college. Specifically, for females, knowing that you might not get paid that much going out of school, it's not an easy decision.” She continued, “You have your passion of what you want to do, and how you want to do it and you have your goals, but knowing that when you go out of school, you might not have the funds to do both. To really attain your goals, and probably live your life at the same time. It was a hard choice.”
Brandi spent a lot of time discussing the decision with family and friends, and really digging deep internally on what she wanted to achieve in her life. She eventually decided to find a different way to be involved in the beautiful game. “I wouldn't have been in the position I am today if I didn't have that struggle,” she added.
From a young age, Brandi’s parents instilled in her and her siblings to always give back to their community. Her parents would bring them to community programs on Long Island to help other kids that were less fortunate than them. “I probably didn’t have that epiphany until I was in college down in Baltimore, that not everybody has the same experience that I did. Having that background of always wanting to help people.” Brandi continued on how helping people was something that was just a natural part of what makes her who she is. “Thinking about the position I chose being a goalkeeper as well, it’s kind of me helping my team for the greater good. So, I’ve always had a passion for doing that.”
That passion for helping people carried into Brandi’s job searches. She looked for positions that would allow her to still be involved with the game she loves, travel the world, and give back to the community. When she landed an interview with NYCFC, she knew something “just seemed right” as soon as she stepped off the elevator.
“My supervisor at the time was interviewing me and he just made me feel as if this is the right place at the right time, the right environment, and I was the right person for this job. Not only the job, but the journey of kind of building soccer within the United States.”
2020 has been an unprecedented year for the New York City community and beyond. As we’ve seen through this undeNYable series, New Yorkers everywhere have been stepping up to help their fellow neighbors. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, City Football Group (CFG) launched Cityzens Giving For Recovery, a 12-month recovery campaign bringing together its nine clubs, thousands of staff, players and coaches, and millions of fans to help communities get back on their feet. In a further boost to the Cityzens Giving for Recovery drive, CFG will be matching all donations for the funding of nine recovery-linked projects near to each of its clubs with funds raised in New York going towards NY Common Pantry.
For Brandi, supporting the Bronx through this campaign has hit close to home. “Cityzens Giving for Recovery will be making a direct impact on the communities, on the families, on the youth, and especially on the families that we see on a weekly basis.” She continued, “As we all sat in quarantine earlier this year, I think a lot of us felt very helpless, and not knowing what we could do. This gives a platform for us to make this big impact and to really help people that are in our own backyard.”
Over the years with NYCFC and City in the Community, Brandi has seen the impact of giving back to the community firsthand and she hopes to continue changing more lives through the power of soccer.
“I've seen the reactions from kids, just giving them a soccer ball, and seeing how it's changed their life and how it's gotten them to places, literally and figuratively that they've never thought they have been able to achieve. I’ve seen kids walk into our Saturday Night Lights program or even our schools’ program that have never touched a soccer ball before in their life. Being here for so long, five or six years, we’ve actually gotten to see them grow and how the power of the sport has changed their lives. So, it’s a direct impact. Even if it’s not about playing soccer, it really gives them the drive to do something more and the passion to do something more knowing that it’s out there.”
If you are interested in supporting Cityzens Giving for Recovery and NY Common Pantry you can get involved by volunteering, donating, and sharing the message by visiting https://www.nycfc.com/community/cityzens-giving.