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Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig has pledged $50,000 toward the historic groundbreaking of the 50th Dodgers Dreamfield in an effort to build a positive future for children in low-income communities.
The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation on Monday ushered in a new era of sportsmanship for under-served youth at Algin Sutton Recreation Center in Los Angeles as the organization’s executive director Nichol Whiteman celebrated the final phase of the $10 million Dreamfield project that pledged to create 50 fields in 15 years alongside star player Puig, Queen Sugar‘s Dondré Whitfield and others.
Whiteman told The Hollywood Reporter that children shouldn’t have to live in a world where financial hardships or a certain zip code deter them from achieving their dreams. “If kids have resources and they know that someone cares, they will be able to see their future, they will be able to change their future,” she said.
In a sea of Dodger Blue, youth softball and baseball players representing the community of Algin Sutton, Dodgers RBI, the Natasha Watley Foundation and Puig’s 66ers baseball team crowded around home plate to take a step into their future home.
The event sparked a larger discussion on the impact of sports participation in children and how it can positively affect their sense of discipline and engagement within a community. Queen Sugar star Whitfield described his own childhood dream to pursue baseball professionally and told THR that he had to discover other avenues to express himself due to a lack of opportunities on the streets of Brooklyn. “If you don’t have a field like this, where do you go to seek that sort of validation? Where do you go to seek that kind of love and attention?” said the actor.
Whitfield celebrated the historic milestone with his son by his side and pointed to a future where the next generation of kids, including his own, could have a productive outlet for their passions. “When you don’t [have an outlet], people who are frustrated and who are angry generally lash out. When you’ve got kids that are getting all of that out on the field, you don’t have to strike out because you feel satisfied in that space, in your soul,” he said.
The ceremony concluded with Puig trading in his baseball cap for a hard hat as he grabbed a golden shovel, gripping it as tightly as he would his bat, to break ground on the new field.
Puig told THR that he noticed a part of himself in the youth who are just as hungry to play baseball as he was back in Cuba. “I do more for the kids because I didn’t have these opportunities in Cuba, and it’s made me feel good to watch kids fight to play baseball better,” he said.
The construction of Dreamfield #50 is expected to be completed in September.
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