Hundreds of kids crowded around international soccer stars Carli Lloyd and David Beckham, asking for autographs, taking photos and screaming with excitement, when the two came to Nassau Saturday.
As a promotional event for the proposed Las Vegas Sands casino, Lloyd and Beckham visited Long Island for what was supposed to be a day of coaching and practicing soccer. However, when the kids saw the soccer legends, all thoughts of ball control drills immediately left their minds.
Hosted at Mitchell Athletic Complex in Uniondale, soccer teams from Uniondale, Hempstead, Westbury, Garden City, Carl Place and East Meadow were invited to one of two sessions, with around 200 kids participating in each.
Lloyd and Beckham began the event by sharing opening remarks. Then the young soccer players were supposed to form groups of 10 to do soccer drills being demonstrated up front while Lloyd and Beckham came around to give advice.
The minute they stepped onto the field, the two soccer greats were swarmed. The excitement emanating from the kids was palpable. After about 45 minutes of Lloyd and Beckham signing autographs, each team lined up to take a photo with the two of them.
While there was not very much soccer played Saturday, many kids said this event was something they will remember forever.
“I’m never washing this hand again,” screamed one little boy after getting a high-five from Beckham.
The event was part of Sand Cares and the Sands Youth Empowerment Initiative in New York – a campaign intended to increase support for the controversial casino the organization is seeking to build at the Nassau Hub, the site of the Nassau Coliseum.
“Sands has a long history of creating deep and meaningful partnerships with our host communities and developing programs that speak to their needs and aspirations,” said Ron Reese, senior vice president of global communications and corporate affairs for Sands. “Bringing David Beckham and Carli Lloyd here to interact with some of Long Island’s community soccer clubs is the start of a long-term commitment to invest in the types of programs that benefit local residents and families.”
Lloyd and Beckham offered their comments on the event in a press release distributed by Sands.
“I love that soccer is a sport that brings people together and requires cooperation and teamwork from every person on the field,” Lloyd said. “Being here today, with Long Island’s future soccer stars and Sands Youth Empowerment Initiative is an uplifting and inspiring experience.”
“I have always talked about the importance of grassroots football in empowering communities and bringing people together,” said Beckham, who has previously promoted Sands casinos and resorts. “It’s great to be here today with Carli and The Sands Youth Empowerment Initiative, working with these incredible students, young people and future football stars.”
In addition to the Sands Youth Empowerment Initiative, Las Vegas Sands recently announced job training partnerships with Nassau County Community College and Minority Millennials. They have also funded and launched a new certification program to help minority, women, and veteran entrepreneurs within Long Island’s labor community create businesses, according to the press release.
Hofstra University President Susan Poser, the Nostrand Gardens Civic Association and the Garden City Village Board of Trustees have publicly opposed the casino.