Dragons FC, SMC Sheriff's Activities League Continue Strong Partnership in 2016
Dragons Midfielder & SAL Alum Armando Garcia Continues to be a Positive Role Model
The Burlingame Dragons Football Club is elated to be partnering with the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Activities League during the 2016 Premier Development League season.
“We could not be more excited to have the Sheriff’s Activities League (SAL) back as a community partner this season. The partnership will continue to give underprivileged children in San Mateo County the opportunity to attend Dragons matches and experience positive role models in person.” Jordan Gardner, Dragons President.
Dragons midfielder Armando Garcia from Redwood City, an alum of the SAL program, is currently the organization’s ambassador to the local community. The SAL will honor Armando this year as they wear specially made shirts title “Armando’s Army” at home games this season.
Burlingamedragons.com recently caught up with Barbara Bonilla, the Director of Community Services for the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, and she spent some time explaining the organization, it’s goals and aspirations, and some exciting plans they have for the upcoming Dragons season.
Can you explain what the SAL is and how it relates to soccer in the San Mateo area?
The San Mateo County Sheriff's Activities League's (SAL) mission is to invest in all youth of San Mateo County by creating opportunities that guide them toward their full potential through impactful programs, which foster relationships between deputies, youth, families and the community. SAL programs all fall into four focus areas: Building the Bind between deputies and kids, SAL Healthy Kids, Mentoring and Leadership Training,
The SAL soccer program falls under the SAL Healthy Kids focus area where we focus on keeping youth active and healthy while using sports as a vehicle to deliver services, which include academic support, counseling, life skills workshops and college prep classes. The San Mateo County Football Club provides soccer on all levels from grass roots Soccer for Success (sponsored by the US Soccer Foundation), lunch time soccer, San Mateo County Earthquakes (SouthCouty, Earthquakes, San Mateo Earthquakes and the Earthquake RDS program) to the SMC Star alliance (12 and up competitive teams, NPL and USSDA).
How was your experience with the Dragons last year as founding partners? How did the kids find the games/atmosphere?
We had a great experience last year with the Dragons. The kids loved coming to the games and cheering for the Dragons. They especially loved cheering for Armando. They also were so excited to be part of the half time games and walk the players out on the field.
How has Armando's presence helped the SAL and how has he served as an ambassador for the team and community with SAL/SMCEQ?
Armando has grown up in SAL programs. He chose to give back to the kids in his neighborhood by coaching through college and volunteering for SAL. Now he is working for SAL and coaching the South County Earthquakes. We all see him as an ambassador for our program, but more importantly, he is a role model to the kids he coaches. He is also a mentor to the youth in the program because we are more than soccer and want all the kids to develop in all aspects of their lives.
Can you talk about some of the cool things that the SAL is going to do this year in regards to Armando?
I have attached our Armando Army shirt design [see above]. This year we are really going to promote the Armando Army theme at the games. We want the kids from the SMC Earthquakes training centers to show their pride for Armando as someone that was once just like them, playing at Fair Oaks and now see where his hard work has gotten him. Armando shows our kids where they can go if they work hard, and he gives them hope for their future.