EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) The El Paso soccer community gathered Sunday evening at the Student Activities Complex field for a special match made up of El Paso legends to raise money for victims injured in the Walmart mass shooting.
From former professional players to the El Paso Locomotive FC and local soccer clubs, the entire stadium was filled with support to raise money for six victims of the local soccer community who were affected in the shooting and using the game of soccer to heal.
The match was coordinated by Mike Lopez, the owner of the FC Dallas El Paso Academy with the help of Walmart, Soccoro ISD, Paso Del Norte Soccer and the El Paso Soccer League.
“We’re a close-knit family, we’re all competitive throughout the season, leagues, teams but we all go for the same purpose of helping each other and grow the sport,” Lopez said.
The six victims include members of the El Paso Fusion Soccer Club who were shot and injured while fundraising at the Walmart where the shooting happened.
Also honored at the match, Javier Rodriguez, 15, the youngest victim killed who played for local team Express FC, which was also in attendance.
“We’re putting in that recognition for Javi who played 7 or 8 years with us and it hurt us dearly,” Express FC Manager Fernando Delgado said.
Express FC sent a final message to Javier during Sunday’s fundraiser match.
“I think from above he is watching us and is thankful for all the support and all the people coming out here to support each other,” Delgado said.
The team said they will continue to play for Javier as they try to heal and move forward.
“We’re going to miss him and that he’s going to be in our hearts and the kids are going to continue playing,” Express FC President, Jose Andrade, said.
El Paso Locomotive FC players in attendance also stood united with the local soccer community.
“To be able to raise money for hospital bills for equipment whatever the case maybe it was just a simple way to do it and thankfully we were able to spread to word and get things out,” Sebastian Velasquez, the Locomotive FC midfielder said.
Members of the local soccer community told KTSM this event was a way to help the community heal together and try to find positivity after such a dark time.
“From our part from Locomotive, from myself, and from everyone here, we’re all behind them, we stand behind them and this city will always be united and we’ll help them out in any way we can,” Locomotive FC forward Omar Salgado said.
The GoFundMe page set up for the El Paso Fusion soccer club reached nearly $28,000 of its $30,000 goal at the time of the end of Sunday’s match but that does not include the proceeds and donations gathered at the game.