The St. Louis Scott Gallagher Pre-Academy 2006 and 2007 soccer teams gave a family a Holiday Season they will never forget. Players, coaches, and parents delivered gifts that will not only bring them joy and comfort, but also financially get them through these tough early years of their transition to America.
The Bikona’s are a Republic of Congo immigrant family of ten. Two of the brothers are on the Nahed Chapman New American Academy Soccer Team. Earlier this year, St. Louis Scott Gallagher members provided uniforms, soccer shoes and training to the New American School team. The Pre-Academy 2006 and 2007 groups hosted Faustin (one of the Bikona brothers) at their training session this fall.
“Led by Grandma Chiku, the Bikonas were the sweetest group of loving people and were so grateful,” said Coach Chris Gomez. Grandma relayed through a Swahili translator that the SLSG group that visited her St. Louis home was a God-send.
The SLSG PreAcademy families really stepped up and the gifts given were valued at over $2,500. “The personal touches our families put into the gifts really showed they were from our hearts. This was an incredible experience and, to go along with our core values, one that we plan on making a tradition with our Pre-Academy teams at these ages,” said Coach Ren Herzog.
“It was really great to see such happy and thankful faces for the gifts and help we were able to provide. It made me appreciate my home and family,” said PA team midfielder Eddie Stewart.
Before they opened the gifts, Coach Ken Godat read to Grandma Chiku on behalf of the group. The translator repeated in Swahili:“We are from St. Louis Scott Gallagher. We believe in helping others. It is in our mission. One of our core values is Unity. Coming together as one. We love the New American School and what it stands for. We want to show our unity by giving your family a special holiday season. Please enjoy our gifts and smile big when using them. The beautiful game of football has brought us together.”
“The best part was when they opened their gifts and we got to see their faces. I am proud to be part of a club that gives back,” said Landon Martin of the 2006 team. Landon’s mom, Lauren, personalized gift bags for all members of the family.
Logan Pierce of the 2007 team submitted the Bikona family to Bommarito’s Holiday Charity Program and, due to Logan’s fine work, the family was accepted. Bommartio gave $500 towards the project. “I feel very proud to help the family this Christmas and to see Faustin’s family so happy,” said Logan.
“I really enjoyed visiting the family we were able to help. It makes me appreciate what I have,” said defender Lucas Valenti. Lucas’ mom Carla led the collection and distribution of the gifts.
SLSG is also part of a bigger project, called “The Gateway Welcome Project” led by Peter Tao, which this past fall helped secure a field and bleachers for the Nahed Chapman New American Academy. Over the past year, many SLSG coaches conducted training sessions at the school and hosted the NCNAA School at an STLFC game and Soccer Park kick-around. The School team was honored at the SLSG Turkey Bowl for completing their first season in the Urban St. Louis School League.
If anyone is interested in learning more about SLSG’s involvement in the Nahed Chapman New American Academy, or is interested in helping the SLSG Upper90 Soccer Missions cause, please email Ken Godat – KGodat@SLSGsoccer.com