Before there were questions about "how will I watch this game since I don't have the channel?" there was a small group of Seattle Sounders fans that looked at the CONCACAF Champions League schedule and said "how do I travel to Honduras?" This edition of three questions is different. It is not with an expert about the opposing side, but instead with two dudes part of a group of about a dozen who took a match against CD Olimpia as a reason to travel to Roatan and Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
SaH: On the morning of the game the group of you and Roger Levesque are hanging out with some Honduran youth. How did the program get started and what do you (personally) hope to gain the experience?
Shawn: When I first contacted Taylor Graham to start working on match logistics, he told me they were planning on doing some community service events the days leading up to the trip and asked if any of the traveling supporters would be interested in participating. Without much information, I jumped at the opportunity and said we'd definitely participate. As the Sounders (led by Roger Levesque) and their partners who were planning the project developed more of the plan, we were offered the amazing opportunity to help lead a youth clinic and attend the dedication of a field at a local youth center. We requested gear donations from a few points of contact, and ECS FC (@ECS_FC) partner West Coast Goalkeeping (@WestCoastGK) came through with a huge package of gloves and the American Youth Soccer Organization (@AYSO_Soccer) and Fold A Goal (@FoldAGoal) donated about 60 youth kits. We'll be giving these out to the youth at the clinic and at the youth center. Personally, I know this will be a soul-enriching experience, to help children in need and make a positive impact on their life both today and for the future. We use #SoccerForAll to talk about ticket prices and accessibility to the game, but this is a great example of acting on those beliefs.
Tom: When I'd first heard from Shawn and the group that we had this opportunity to spend the day working with kids in Honduras (read: playing a game we all love, together), it was an absolutely great addition to our time in the country. Roger Levesque has made a great addition to what the Sounders are able to do in the community - the global one, at that - and we're proud to be a part of it, even if for just one day.
SaH: When you and the others travel to CCL away matches what do you learn about the soccer culture in foreign lands?
Shawn: I've attended CCL away matches in Guatemala City, Trinidad and Tobago, Monterrey, Mexico in past years, and the thing that has struck me most about the soccer culture in those places is how friendly everyone is. Each time, people I've encountered have been excited that we were there, impressed by our support and generous in making us comfortable at the match. People love soccer and are happy the sport is growing in the US, they love when we know about players from their country or teams that have moved to MLS. It's always a great experience talking with these fans and supporters.
Tom: This is my first CCL away match with ECS. I've attended soccer matches in Chile, Mexico and Italy before and have spent a lot of time trying to learn a lot about the culture and people involved in the sport. Like, Shawn, I'm typically intrigued by how taken people are by the sport as a whole. While those of us in the USA see how entrenched the rest of the world is in the culture of soccer via television and friends, it's a very different thing to see it in person. In just a few days on the island of Roatan, where we've stopped to get a bit of vacation before heading to Tegucigalpa for the match, we've already seen a handful of people that are amazed that this large a group of Americans would travel to Honduras for a game, and that's pretty awesome. As intense as we expect match day to be, we think it'll be a great time.
SaH: What's with the monkey?
Shawn: What happens in Roatan, stays in Roatan.
Tom: What monkey are you talking about, Dave?
Dave: I don't really know.
If you want to travel to an away match, follow the ECS Travel Monkey. Or just plan your own trip.
Projected Lineup: Perkins; Remick, Ockford, Scott, Azira; Kovar, Pineda, Roldan, Pappa; Jones, Thomas
That would give a bench of Neagle, Mansaray, Lowe, Mears, Frei, Rose