The flooding and devastation due to Hurricane Harvey is an unimaginable human and natural disaster, one of the worst in the history of the United States. In total, the area around Houston and the Texas coast that have experienced flooding is greater than the entire state of Delaware. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated, while thousands more are being rescued by relief personnel. The relief effort itself is a monumental task with local, state, and federal agencies being joined by nonprofit disaster relief organizations.
People have lost their homes, many have lost their livelihoods, and there have been at least 14 confirmed deaths in the aftermath of the storm. With so much devastation and turmoil still ongoing in the city, it may seem like an odd time to be thinking about soccer and sports in general. However, after Hurricane Katrina the city of New Orleans rallied around the New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Hornets (now New Orleans Pelicans) to provide a sense of normalcy following the chaos of that disaster.
Houston is another sports crazy city. While it may take some time before the cleanup is complete and people living there get back to their daily lives, plans are already coming together to recognize relief workers and residents who are making exceptional efforts in the rescue operations.
Former Houston Dynamo and U.S. Men’s National Team player and current Fox Soccer analyst Stuart Holden, who grew up in the city, discussed with Stars and Stripes FC what it has been like watching the events there unfold, saying:
“My social media timeline was filled with friends who have lost their cars, homes and all their personal belongings and it really hit me hard. I was trying to imagine myself in their shoes, carrying my daughter above my head through the flood waters and leaving our home in the hands of Mother Nature... as a parent and husband it was a chilling thought that is reality for so many.”
Holden was inspired to do something for the city and after chatting with his wife, he looked to social media for ideas that would help. Last night he put out a simple retweet with an idea to hold a charity match for relief funds:
Things took off from there with other celebrities and athletes getting behind the idea including Jozy Altidore who volunteered to be a captain of one of the teams.
Former USMNT forward Brian McBride committed to the match:
I'm in.— Brian McBride (@BMcBride20) August 29, 2017
Houston Dynamo legend Brian Ching also supports the idea.
I like where your guys heads are at. Let's do this and get some money raised for Houston https://t.co/X2mbMCqRs6— Brian Ching (@brianching) August 29, 2017
The list has only grown from there with Taylor Twellman, Mia Hamm, Landon Donovan, Kyle Martino, AJ De La Garza, Mike Magee, and Allie Long pledging their support. Along with celebrities and soccer players, the match will also feature first responders and heroic citizens who risked their lives to help others in the aftermath of the storm.
Holden has gotten hundreds if not thousands of retweets and comments encouraging the idea from followers. In response to the overwhelming response to the idea, he said, “Houston is a diverse and strong city, so it's no surprise everyone is behind it.” Holden added that the diversity of the city will be a feature of the game, telling SSFC, “Because of the diversity in the city, I feel the event has to represent that, which is where the idea to include Fire fighters, first responders, police men, average-turned-hero citizens, all these people that are out there saving lives.”
Plans are already in motion to make sure that the game is leaving the Twitterverse and will become a reality. Holden gave details about the plans for the match saying, “I have connected with Dynamo President, Chris Canetti, who put together a community fundraiser event close to his home of Connecticut in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy.”
Though it may be some time before life gets back to normal in the Magnolia City, the match will aid the relief effort and be a way for the city to come together. Along with Canetti and those who have committed to supporting the match, Holden promised that, “we are going to work together to put on an event that will make Houston proud and help to those in need.”
The SB Nation staff has also included ways everyone can help, the charity match may still be in the planning stages, but there is a lot that needs to happen right now and any type of contribution will make a difference.