CHICAGO (CBS) — Albert Martin, a Palatine firefighter, was on a church mission with his daughter to Jamaica earlier this year and noticed some kids playing soccer in an overgrown area in the community of Lookout, not to far from Montego Bay.
They were there to help local schools and paint some homes. WBBM’s Lisa Fielding reports.
“We were going there, not really knowing what our projects were going to be. Then we came up to this big old hill and there’s this flat, overgrown piece of land and I see three, four kids with no shirts and no shoes playing soccer,” he recalls.
Martin, a soccer player and coach himself soon realized he could help.
“I met the local Paster there named Brother Al. As soon as he figured out that we knew soccer, he started tell us about what he wanted to do with the land,” Martin said. “It turned into an unbelievable experience. I told him I’d help him complete his project and help him with his vision.”
Now, he’s set up a GoFundMe page to raise some money to build a full fledged soccer field. Martin said they’ve already put up light posts, cut the grass but plenty more is needed.
“We painted some lines and put up some posts for lights. Now we hope to raise money to supply them with goals, nets for the goals, soccer balls and gear, some benches in the community so they can watch the games, we’re going to help them get some uniforms, shoes and trophies,” he said.
Martin said he’s been involved in soccer his whole life, so this project is a perfect way to give back.
“Out of all of these projects, this is the most gratifying and humbling things I’ve ever been involved in,” he said. “It’s been life changing.”
Martin said he was shocked by the conditions these children played with.
“These kids don’t have any shoes and they have one soccer ball that is worn down to the rubber. Its’ a safe haven for kids to come and play. There are 7-,8-,9-year olds all the way up to the older boys in their 20s come down and play. They need something of their own,” he said. “Shoes, shirts, ever water bottles, they ate up anything we could give them.”
Martin said they’re goal is to raise $10,000 and hopes to have the soccer field built by February.
So far, $4,300 has been raised of the $10,000 goal.
“These kids are so grateful and humble,” Martin said. “And will benefit greatly from a project like this.”