LAFC and PepsiCo Beverages North America announced a five-year partnership on Tuesday, making Pepsi and its brands the official beverage partners of the MLS club.
As part of the partnership, PepsiCo and the LAFC Foundation, along with goalkeeper Pablo Sisniega, will team up to refurbish a futsal field at USC Performing Arts Magnet school at 32nd Street in Los Angeles. The school, located in a predominantly Hispanic/Latinx neighborhood, has repeatedly tried to upgrade the field in the past, to no avail, to help students and the community find a safe and fun place to play.
“We wanted our partnership with LAFC to go beyond the team and focus on empowering and uplifting their fans. PepsiCo is working hard towards strengthening our Hispanic communities through our Racial Equality Journey commitments, and this pitch refurbishment is just one example of how we’re investing in the future of Hispanic Angelenos by providing another outlet to show their passion and pride for the sport they love – fútbol,” said Johannes Evenblij, West Division President of PepsiCo Beverages North America in a statement on the partnership.
The initiative will also see PepsiCo and the LAFC Foundation distribute soccer kits to families at the school so kids can have equipment needed to play, like a soccer ball, cooling towels, training cones and more.
“We’re proud to collaborate with Pepsi on a multi-faceted initiative that will bring so much joy and unity to our city, our sport and our Club,” said LAFC Co-President Larry Freedman. “While it will be great to see the Pepsi brand in action at every LAFC home match and event at the Banc, it will be even better to see how they come together with our foundation and Pablo to restore a futsal pitch and provide much needed equipment for members of our community.”
Sisniega takes the need for safe places to play to heart.
“I think it’s super important to have like for kids to have opportunity to play, especially when they’re young, kind of get the opportunity to have a field in a place where they can go and practice and just play with their friends, I think that’s so important so I think it’s huge that Pepsi and LAFC have teamed up to get kids in this community, that opportunity so they can play, so they can develop the love for the game and so they can also kind of stay out of doing bad things and just really develop their love and the passion for the game which I think is so important because it really gives you a driving force in it. It forces you to develop as a person and as a player.”
Sisniega was born and raised in Mexico, but having lived in the United States at times in his life and having American relatives, he said his identity matches that of many people in Los Angeles.
“I mean I think it’s Mexican American,” he said when asked how he identifies. “I have some family, like both my grandmothers are American, and I also grew up in kind of a bicultural family. I lived most of my life in Mexico and I feel more Mexican, I would say than American, but also I mean I have an American passport, I have American family so I also do feel like I have that side as an American.”
And the goalkeeper argues that in a time when the intersection of politics and sports has intensified, sports ultimately do not sit outside of the rest of society.
“Well I think that that sports have always been political,” he said. “Recently they’ve been getting more attention for being political but they’ve always been political so I think in that sense, using soccer as a platform to really raise issues that are important to us as players is very, very important. And I also think that soccer is a game where you can kind of unify all kinds of different types of people, so you can unify people from all ages and genders, it doesn’t really matter because everybody relates and everybody’s kind of unified to support, in this case, LAFC.”
And if the community unites to support the team, Sisniega says the club then has a duty to pay it back.
“I think it’s very important, as a club that we have the opportunity to kind of to kind of use our platform to help these communities in different communities to do as much as we possibly can,” he said.
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