Amerigroup Foundation donates 10K to FC Harlem

Amerigroup a Fortune 500 Company, coordinates services for individuals in publicly funded health care programs. Serving approximately 2 million members in 11 states nationwide. Amerigroup who focuses on underserved communities presented a check  for Ten Thousand Dollars to FC Harlem to help support its programs.

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FC Harlem U20 makes United Soccer League North American Finals in only 2nd season

After only their second season in the very competitive United Soccer League Super 20 the young men of FC Harlem have been invited to the USL Super 20 North American Finals Rockford, IL from July 29th – August 1st.  FC Harlem finished 4th in the Mid Atlantic Region this summer. FC Harlem was the only inner city soccer club represented in the tournament and in the league.

The North American Finals featured some of the strongest, well established soccer programs in the country including MLS youth academy teams like DC United, LA Galaxy, Chicago Fire and  Columbus Crew Juniors. FC Harlem did not win any of its games in Chicago but it was a great experience. For many of the participants it was the small things that were rewarding such as the first time taking a tour bus across the country and staying in hotels.

FC Harlem finished up the 2010 season ranked #22 out of 68 clubs across the country.

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President Clinton comes to FC Harlem (bleacher report)

Below is an edited version of an original article published on Bleacher Report
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Bill Clinton Made Honorary Chairman Of USA Bid Committee For FIFA World Cup

By: Cesar Diaz

Harlem, NY (May 17, 2010) —In order to bolster the United States’ chances of hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2018 or 2022, the USA Bid Committee reached out to former President of the United States Bill Clinton.

Former President Bill Clinton kicks a soccer ball during a news conference in New York, Monday, May 17, 2010. Clinton will serve as the honorary chairman of the United States' bid to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.  (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Former President Bill Clinton kicks a soccer ball during a news conference in New York, Monday, May 17, 2010. Clinton will serve as the honorary chairman of the United States’ bid to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

At the FC Harlem soccer facility, following a soccer clinic hosted by the New York Red Bulls, President Bill Clinton announced to the media that he has accepted the USA Bid Committee’s request to join their efforts in bringing the FIFA World Cup to the United States in 2018 or 2022.

President Clinton made it clear that he’s ready to roll up his sleeves and do whatever U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati needs of him. “One of the things I learned from the Olympics is that this not a one-week process. We’re going to work hard at this for seven months and see if we can prevail,” said President Clinton.

Recognized for his humanitarian causes since leaving the office, President Clinton has traveled around the planet and has witnessed firsthand the powerful impact soccer has globally.

“I spend a lot of time in countries that are extremely poor, where kids have no playing fields and a lot of times never get to go to school,” said Clinton. “But they know about soccer everywhere…and they play.”

“We want the world to look more like the world of soccer,” Clinton said. “We want people to think more like these kids think when they play. We want people to relate to other people in other lands like they do on the soccer field. … They play by a set of rules, and we’re all better off for having tried. That’s what we need more of.”

Along with his presidency and humanitarian causes, Clinton is the only President to be in office while the World Cup was on American soil in 1994. He also pointed out that by hosting the World Cup, each of the 18 host cities has the potential to generate $400-600 million of economic stimulus.

“That will be very good for a lot of families that are still hurting and a lot of communities still digging out from under the current economic crisis,” Clinton said.

Also present and excited about President Clinton joining the USA Bid Committee were Congressman Charles Rangel, Pastor Calvin Butts, NYC Comptroller John Liu, MLS Commissioner Dan Garber, and President of U.S. Soccer Sunil Gulati, who said, “Few heads of state, if any, have played as important a role in positively affecting social change in their years after office as President Bill Clinton.”

Cesar Diaz is the Soccer Editor for Latino Sports. Please send Cesar your questions and comments to [email protected]

President Clinton comes to FC Harlem (mls soccer)

Below is an edited version of an original article published on MLS Soccer
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President Clinton named honorary chairman of US World Cup Bid

By: Nick Firchau

NEW YORK—The bid to land the World Cup on American soil sometime in the next 12 years has received its biggest stamp of approval, thanks to a soccer dad who doubles as one of the most recognizable former heads of state in the world.

Former President Bill Clinton was introduced as the honorary chairman of the USA Bid Committee on Monday during a ceremony at a sparkling new youth soccer facility in Harlem, a site Clinton noted wouldn’t exist without the interest initially sparked during the last U.S. World Cup in 1994.

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WATCH: President Clinton joins the US bid for the World Cup

Clinton—who greeted children at FC Harlem Field with a swift kick of a soccer ball before he was officially introduced in his new role—attended matches during the 1994 World Cup and the 1999 Women’s World Cup, and on Monday preached that he’ll help in any way possible to land the World Cup in either 2018 or 2022.

“We want the world to look more like the world of soccer,” Clinton said. “We want people to think more like these kids think when they play. We want people to relate to other people in other lands like they do on the soccer field … They play by a set of rules, and we’re all better off for having tried. That’s what we need more of.”

The announcement comes three days after bid chairman and president of U.S. Soccer Sunil Gulati presented the official bid book to FIFA during a formal ceremony in Zurich. FIFA will name the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments on Dec. 2.

“Infrastructure, stadiums, hotels, all those things are easy,” Gulati said. “But we now need to convince them of the American spirit … that we will openly welcome the world. And I can think of no person better to help us do that than President Clinton.”

Clinton said he had no trepidations of backing the bid after the recent failure to land the 2016 Summer Olympics in Chicago, when President Barack Obama drew criticism for failing to help sway the International Olympic Committee’s decision to bring the games to the US.

“We got outworked by some of our competitors,” Clinton said. “One of the things I learned from the Olympics is that this not a one-week process. We’re going to work hard at this for seven months and see if we can prevail.”

Clinton—who is the only US president to sit in office during a World Cup on American soil—stressed that the country’s increased diversity and affinity for soccer since his tenure during the 1990s is one of the bid’s strongest points in landing the World Cup.

“People found even in 1994 that all the teams had local supporters living in America,” Clinton said. “And that’s happened on steroids now. This country is far, far more diverse than it was 16 years ago.”

Clinton also emphasized the positives of the country’s existing infrastructure, and that landing the World Cup would generate an economic stimulus between $400 million and $600 million for each host city.

“That will be very good for a lot families that are still hurting and a lot of communities still digging out from under the current economic crisis,” Clinton said.

Since leaving office in 2000, Clinton has worked largely in philanthropy, founding the William J. Clinton Foundation and leading recovery efforts for global natural disasters such as the 2007 tsunami in the Indian Ocean and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

“I spend a lot of time in countries that are extremely poor, where kids have no playing fields and a lot of times never get to go to school,” said Clinton, flanked by school children just blocks from the Harlem office of his foundation. “But they know about soccer everywhere … and they play.”

Clinton admitted that his soccer knowledge as a youngster in rural Arkansas was limited, but that like the majority of American parents over the last three decades, he discovered the sport first as a soccer dad.

“I didn’t know a single soul when I was growing up who played soccer,” Clinton said. “But my daughter was on a team from the time she was five years old. And I’ve seen it take over boys and girls sports, starting at an early age, all over America.”

MLS Commissioner Don Garber—who is a member of the USA bid committee along the likes of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, comedian and Seattle Sounders FC part-owner Drew Carey and Oscar-nominated director Spike Lee—stressed that a US World Cup would provide an economic boon for FIFA and is the last untapped opportunity for the sport’s governing organization.

“A World Cup here would help take it over the top, giving (FIFA) the chance to really open up America and turn it into a true soccer nation,” Garber said.

New York Red Bulls players Juan Pablo Angel, Chris Albright and Seth Stammler were also in attendance at the event, and ran a brief soccer clinic at the field before Clinton arrived.

“I was 15 years old in 1994, a very impressionable sophomore in high school,” said Albright, who was a member of the 2006 US team at the World Cup in Germany. “That World Cup brought soccer into people’s living rooms, into people’s backyards. That formed the foundation for the game here.”

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FC Harlem unveils youth soccer field at Children’s Aid Society

Below is an edited version of an original article published on US Soccer Foundation
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FC Harlem Unveils youth soccer field at Children’s Aid Society

By: Timothy Williams

What was once a rundown asphalt playground in the center of Harlem is now home to an oasis of green where youth soccer players from FC Harlem and local organizations can play the game they love.

“I’m proud of this day and this moment. As far as FC Harlem, we’ve come a long way, and without the support of the U.S. Soccer Foundation behind us, this would not have been possible. It’s helping a lot of all these kids in the communities and I’m proud of it.”
Glen Daley, Founder of FC

On April 9, 2010 the U.S. Soccer Foundation joined Irv Smalls, Executive Director of FC Harlem, Major League Soccer, The Children’s Aid Society, FieldTurf, and local politicians for the grand opening of a FieldTurf soccer field in downtown Harlem.

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“This great day was a long time coming,” said Smalls

In 2008, the U.S. Soccer Foundation and MLS W.O.R.K.S. sponsored a gala to raise funds for the field project in Harlem – a city where safe play spaces and positive activities are desperately needed for area youth.

“Soccer is the world’s most popular game. But it’s more than a game, it’s a vehicle to get kids connected to positive outcomes in their life, to increase their physical activity, to get them connected to positive adult role models, and also to teach them teamwork, collaboration, and discipline,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, President of the U.S. Soccer Foundation.

Richard Buery, President and CEO of the Children’s Aid Society, a non-profit dedicated to serving the children of New York City, also recognized the importance of the new field to the community.

“We know young people need mentorship, support, education, and of course sports, because we know that sports are a great tool to teach leadership, to teach teamwork to help people be healthy and happy,” said Buery.

“This is the largest city in the country, and it’s a city that’s made up of people from all other countries from around the world,” added Don Garber, Commissioner of Major League Soccer. “This is the beautiful game that represents every ethnicity and it is such a diverse opportunity for people to come together and celebrate this sport.”

Learn more about Field Grants from the U.S. Soccer Foundation.

Former Dutch National Team Star Edgar Davids returns to FC Harlem

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In 2007 Edgar Davids came to FC Harlem with his street soccer group Monta to show the futsal skills that has made famous around the world. Edgar is considered one of the best footballers of all time and did so playing at clubs AJAX, Juventus, AC MILAN, Inter, Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur. As part of the Champions League Trophy Tour in the United States Edgar reconnected with Director of FC HARLEM and asked to come kick it with some of the FC Harlem travel team players. After visiting with MLS Commissioner Don Garber at the Major League Soccer Headquarters, Edgar headed uptown to see the kids of FC Harlem. Despite the chilly February air Edgar played futsal with the players on the concrete for an hour so before jumping back on a plane to head back to Europe.  The players loved his laid back style and his advice on working hard to be the best you can be.

Small Harlem Youth Soccer League Attracts Some Big-Name Friends

Below is an edited version of an original article published on The New york Times
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Small Harlem Youth Soccer League Attracts Some Big-Name Friends

By: Timothy Williams

On an overcast Saturday morning this month, a group of young girls and boys ran around a soccer field. Some tried haphazardly to make the ball go in a particular direction, while others executed crisp passes and showed off deft dribbling skills.

With the approach of spring, weekend soccer practice is again taking its place as a middle-class American ritual.

But the scene on this Saturday occurred in Harlem, a neighborhood with a shortage of playable fields and, until recently, little interest in soccer.

The children were members of Harlem Youth Soccer, a nonprofit club. And while organizers still get raised eyebrows when they talk about the club (“They play soccer in Harlem?”), it has garnered an unusually high profile for a neighborhood youth sports program in the past few months.

On Wednesday, former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton are scheduled to serve as honorary chairmen for a $1,250-a-seat fund-raiser for the club at Gotham Hall in Midtown. They are scheduled to be joined by perhaps the world’s two best-known soccer players, Pelé and David Beckham; one of the nation’s richest men, Philip Anschutz, an investor in Major League Soccer; and representatives from corporations including Visa, Nike, Adidas, Univision and Anheuser-Busch. Major League Soccer, an American professional league, is helping to organize the event.

The club hopes to raise $300,000, for after-school and youth leadership programs, and to help build a $1 million playing field. The club recently lost the use of a field at City College where it had been practicing, and the playing space it uses is often unavailable because it is shared by other sports groups.

So why is a neighborhood soccer group that in the past 18 years has produced few notable players and generated little interest outside Harlem getting so much high-profile attention? The club’s organizers call it kismet.

“I think it’s because it’s Harlem, so it’s a cultural icon and it represents a challenging neighborhood — people think of it as a concrete jungle,” said Rahsaan Harris, the program’s chairman. “Connecting a world icon like Harlem to a world sport — it’s another frontier for soccer.”

While Harlem evolves from what has traditionally been an African-American community with high rates of poverty to a more diverse neighborhood with high-rise condominiums and expensive boutiques, Harlem Youth Soccer is made up almost exclusively of black and Latino boys and girls. Some come from families unable to pay the club’s $60 membership fee, which is waived in those cases.

“The real goal is to develop these kids holistically in a nontraditional sport,” said Irvine Smalls Jr., 35, the club’s executive director and the only member of the organization who is not a volunteer. “There’s definitely a lot of talent up here among the boys, and probably the girls, too, once we are able to work with them more, and we hope they’ll be able to use their talent to go to college and become role models.”

Mr. Smalls, a former tight end on the Pennsylvania State University football team, who once worked for Major League Soccer as a contracts and intellectual property adviser, said his aim was to make the club a transformative experience for children. He wants to offer extensive tutoring, counseling and social services to team members, with the goal of opening a charter school.

The club, which started as an offshoot of Harlem Little League baseball in 1990, has grown to include 500 children in various programs.

The traveling teams, called the FC Harlem Lions (FC stands for “football club” and Lions is short for Leaders in Our Neighborhoods) are divided among five squads of children who range in age from 5 to 19. The teams compete against other youth clubs in the city, but they have been unable to play host because the field where they practice — the Jacob Schiff Playground, along Amsterdam Avenue between West 136th and West 138th Streets — is too small to be a regulation field.

Major League Soccer, which has taken a leading role in aiding Harlem Youth Soccer, said its aim in attracting interest to the program from influential supporters was not necessarily to develop young talent for the league.

“We don’t look to Harlem Youth Soccer as incubating the next Pelé,” said Don Garber, commissioner of Major League Soccer, which is based in Manhattan. “It’s not just about playing the sport; it’s about creating a group of engaged young men.”

Last August, Mr. Beckham, who now plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy, held a clinic for the Harlem team at Jacob Schiff. The children performed dribbling drills and played in some scrimmages. At one point, a group of youths playing on adjacent basketball courts playfully shouted at Mr. Beckham: “Basketball — Beckham! Baseball — Beckham!”

Not to be upstaged, Mr. Beckham jogged past his throng of security guards to sign basketballs, baseball mitts and Yankees caps. No one had a soccer ball.

Jama Adams, a spokeswoman for the Parks and Recreation Department, said on Tuesday that the department had found a suitable space in Riverside Park where a soccer field for the Harlem club could be built at the club’s expense.

“Especially in Harlem, where space is at a premium, the parks department has built or restored every available athletic field and is currently working on an interagency basis to create a new city field” for public use, she said in a statement.

The agency has had mixed success in developing similar arrangements. It has built fields for several youth groups in the city, including the Harlem Little League, but has been criticized because the fields are often kept locked, so that only those with city permits can use them.

Earlier this year, an agreement between the department and 20 Manhattan private schools to finance new sports fields and to renovate existing ones on Randalls Island was voided by a state judge, who found that the city had failed to go through the proper approval process. The plan, which would have granted the private schools special access to the fields, had been criticized by public school parents.

In the meantime, the members of Harlem Youth Soccer continue to draw stares. As the boys and girls practiced recently, children walked by carrying baseball gear, headed for a nearby park.

They gawked at the players kicking balls around the green turf, but were silent.

Finally, one managed a single word: “Soccer?”

Credit Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
Harlem Youth Soccer, a nonprofit club, is having success introducing the sport uptown. From left, Mark Frazer, a coach; John Estras; Edson Saavedra; and Jephunneh Frazer at a practice. Credit Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times

MLS Streets to Fields Gala Honors Beckham and Pele raises funds for fields for FC Harlem

Below is an edited version of an original article published on thisisamericansoccer.com
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MLS Streets to Fields Gala Honors Beckham and Pele raises funds for fields for FC Harlem

BY: Adam

Gotham Hall, Midtown Manhattan. The 2008 Streets To Fields black tie gala put on by MLS W.O.R.K.S. and the U.S. Soccer Foundation to “celebrate the sport of soccer in the United States” donated proceeds to Harlem Youth Soccer “to help build a soccer field for its players and develop an after-school soccer and leadership training program.” The New York Timesreported that $300,000 was raised by the very unpublicized event. David Beckham gave “theaward to the man,” in his words, honoring Pele for his lifetime achievement in supporting American soccer. A leadership award went to Phil Anschutz while the philanthropy award went to freshly minted New York Governor and Harlem-born David Paterson. Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush showed their support through pre-taped videos.

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Behind all the glitz, glamor and sculpted ice there was a reason for this banquet. Full feature to come on the whirlwind year in the life of Executive Director Irv Smalls and the biggest little club in New York. For now, a photo story to wet your appetites.

Over 500 people attended the gala. Ten tickets (one table) which included dinner and an open bar went to those donating $15,000.

Irv and two FC Harlem players, Ephriam Fosu, 19, and Kingsley Boakye, 19, prepare for the special night with a photo shoot at Irv’s downstairs neighbor’s makeshift photo studio. Ephram, an articulate young man headed to Thiel College in PA to play soccer and run track, wrote me the following reflection the morning after the event. Like Obama on the campaign trail, I’m humbled by our youth…

I was born and raised in Ghana, West Africa, living mostly with a family friend since both my parents died. I was little to be in that kind of situation not knowing my parents at a very young age, but I wasn’t told about what happened to them until recently. It was hard for me to live without my parent’s love, or having them watch me become a talented soccer player. I started playing football, or as we call it over here soccer, at the age of 7, kicking soccer balls around, and just running after it. That’s how it starts.

Last night at Gotham Hall, I met not only my two greatest soccer idols, David Beckham and Pele, but also commissioner Don Garber, Brad Hays, Sunil Gulati , owner of New England Revolutions Robert Kraft, and John Koskinen of the U.S Soccer Foundation. All men I have heard and read stories about but to talk to them was nice. For FC Harlem, I hope this too is a new beginning.

David Beckham reiterated his belief in American soccer. It’s the first time I wondered what English fans think about their boy working for the USofA. Maybe I’ve just watched too much of that new John Adamsminiseries.

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Harlem2Guadalajara Community Service Trip

Three FC Harlem players had the unique experience to head to Mexico for a weekend to provide community service to youth in Guadalajara.

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David Beckham comes to Harlem

Below is an edited version of an original article published on thisisamericansoccer.com
Click here to read the original post.

Something’s going on in Harlem

By: Adam

David Beckham and Ty Harden arrived in Harlem an hour early for the soccer clinic created for 30-or-so lucky FC Harlemunder-12’s. The Red Bulls’ Juan Pablo Angel and Jozy Altidore

David Beckham and Ty Harden arrived in Harlem an hour early for the soccer clinic created for 30-or-so lucky FC Harlem under-12’s. The Red Bulls’ Juan Pablo Angel and Jozy Altidore, stuck in traffic, arrived about an hour later. Which was a good thing, because after experiencing first hand the blood thirsty papparazzi in action, I don’t want to think what would have happened if it was the other way around.

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The photographers were crazier than the fans, and arguably outnumbered them. And there I am with my little Pentax Optio point-and-shoot in a sea of Canon SLR Cameras with lenses the size of my leg. Size has its priviledge. They got their HD, zooming close-ups and I muscled my little guy in there for what you’ll find after the jump. I now know, just a taste, of what it must be like to work for TMZ. I’ve never seen anything like this, but that had nothing to do with any of the soccer…

But it should have. Because something’s going on in Harlem.

The day started much much mellower. Before meeting FC Harlem’s director Irv Smalls in April of this year, when I thought of Harlem, I thought of jazz, the Apollo, soul music and soul food. I still think of those things, but now I first think of soccer.

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“This is tale of god’s will. This is tale of god’s will.” The new Terrence Blanchard CD was swinging out of my iPod as I came up to empty Jacob Schiff Field around noontime. Blanchard’s inspirational requiem-of-sorts for New Orleans was in my ears, but in my mind were thoughts of the Power of one. What exactly can Beckham do for American soccer, for New York soccer, for Harlem soccer, for FC Harlem soccer?

FC Harlem went from a pipe dream in April, even May of this year to getting David Beckham to appear in order to help announce the first of what is hopefully many more soccer fields in Harlem and throughout New York City. Just a few weeks ago, Irv told me he had maybe 15 kids for his U12 team. At their last practice, he had more than 60 ranging in ages from 10-to-18. People often say in regard to Beckham’s arrival to MLS and the Galaxy, one man does not make a team. And Irv, I’m sure, can attest to that, as he’s had countless hands helping him build FC Harlem. But just as we’ve seen Beckham’s impact as a leader, these teams would be nothing without these men. The power of one can have an enormous effect.

Wow.

Everything was ready to go, hours ahead of time (this is not my usual experience with soccer events in New York). It was ship-shape. Metal barricades outlining half the field. White tents to protect from the elements and act as dressing rooms. New FC Harlem jerseys, shorts, socks, and shoes laid out for the participating kids. Banners – MLS, MLS Works, FC Harlem, nothing with red bull on it – hanging on every viable open piece of fence. If there is one thing New York parks have a lot of, its fences. They needed more. If I learned one new thing today about this whole Beckham circus – and yes I can now say having witnessed it with my own eyes that it is indeed a circus – its that there is only so much control MLS or anyone this side of a riot squad can have over this thing. FC Harlem, MLS, and the Wizard production company contracted to help put on the event should be applauded for their efforts. And I hope they name the new field after Irv, a man whose immense dedication makes me question my own.

The actual goings-on were less than spectacular from a spectator’s perspective. The kids played around, kick and chase, kick and chase. Coaches place them in some semblance of order as the time neared. And when I say time, I mean the cameras are now rolling. Beckham and Harden arrived rather quietly and jumped right into the clinic with the kids. There was no enormous cheer as Beckham and that other guy slipped in through the back gate. What else would they be doing? Was that another MLS exception? Will the Red Bull players have to come through the front gate? Angel has to be a little pissed.

Some dribbling drills ensue, some small-sided scrimmages, though I’m not absolutely sure Webster would define this as a clinic. But there were pennies! Soon after Juan Pablo Angel and Jozy Altidore arrived (through the back gate), the players, both professional and youth, gathered around in front of the gawking cameras to address the crowd and explain that Surpise! – it’s not just a Beckham photo-op. It’s about giving kids a field in this here concrete jungle. “There will be gala in March of 2008 to benefit the construction of a new socc….”Hey move over. Your blocking becks! hey Sexy!” (actual quote from a female photographer muffled thanks only to the garlic press of bodies and amplified speaker.)

August 17, 2007: David Beckham participates in a youth soccer clinic at Jacob Schiff Field in Harlem, New York City today. Credit: INFphoto.com    Ref.: infusny-52/80 beckham at youth soccer clinic  david beckham 25038-25038 united states © insight news and features, inc.
August 17, 2007: David Beckham participates in a youth soccer clinic at Jacob Schiff Field in Harlem, New York City today.
Credit: INFphoto.com Ref.: infusny-52/80 beckham at youth soccer clinic david beckham 25038-25038 united states © insight news and features, inc.

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