EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – El Paso Locomotive FC returned to the pitch for the first time since March 7 on Saturday night, netting a 1-0 win over Rio Grande Valley FC. The game was played without fans amidst an ever-worsening COVID-19 pandemic and while there were big moments during the match, the biggest one of the night came prior to kickoff, when every player and coach for both clubs took a knee to unite against racism.
Across the globe, soccer players have been some of the most vocal athletes standing up against racism in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police on May 25.
“Everyone is coming together in the world of soccer to do that and I think it’s a brilliant thing,” said Locomotive FC goalkeeper Jermaine Fordah.
The movement took center stage Saturday night in El Paso. Every single player for Locomotive FC and Rio Grande Valley FC took a knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, first for a 15-second moment of silence and then for the national anthem.
“The coaching staff, the players, our higher-ups, how we all came together and decided it was something we all wanted to do, we were all in unison with that,” said Fordah. “I think it speaks volumes about the club.”
The trickle-down effect was important for everyone within the team.
“It was important to me, because obviously the cause itself is important,” said Locomotive head coach Mark Lowry. “The social injustice, one, we recognize it and support it. Also, just make sure that we’re unified.”
That unity is a major point of the culture fostered by Los Locos in their short tenure in the Sun City.
“It’s how we play, we run forward together and we run back together. If one person on our team feels anything then we all feel it. I thought it was a great sign of unity in the team,” said Lowry.
Soccer is, of course, known as the world’s game; it’s easily the most popular sport on planet earth. Locomotive FC exemplifies the globalization of football perfectly. 14 different countries are represented on El Paso’s roster.
The solidarity shown on Saturday night is in part because of the team’s diversity.
“We can be very empathetic, coming from different backgrounds, about the situation that’s going on now,” said Fordah. “Seeing as, on a normal basis, we come together anyway, with this particular cause, I think it was all the more reason why it was like, ‘Do you know what guys? We understand, we want to support, we want to be together, we want to be united.'”
Fordah says that while positive steps like Saturday’s stand on the pitch are being made, there is still a long way to go in the fight against racism.
“There’s still a lot to be done from the top to the bottom,” said Fordah. “But I think the fact that people are talking about it, and people are actively taking a stance against it, I think that definitely shows improvement.”
Every Locomotive player also sported a Black Lives Matter armband during the match; Fordah told KTSM that the club plans to continue what it started on Saturday throughout the season. They have a unique platform at the moment, and they plan to use it.
El Paso will host New Mexico United Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Southwest University Park.