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Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo pays surprise visit to LA youth

Los Angeles, Calif. (18 July, 2005) – Surprises were the order of the day today in Los Angeles as more than 200 children were introduced to a new home for soccer in their neighborhood, the Latino community of Pico-Union, while Brazilian soccer superstar Ronaldo paid an unexpected visit.

Ronaldo, in one of his few visits to the United States since making his World Cup debut in 1994 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, was on hand as the new field at the Salvation Army Red Shield Youth and Community Center was dedicated by Nike, the U.S. Soccer Foundation and representatives from the City of Los Angeles.

“Kids need opportunities. Give them that and the world is theirs to own,” said Ronaldo, a hero to many of the youth in this Latin community and a symbol of success through hard work and dedication. He has represented Brazil in three World Cups including 2002 when it won the title and he was named the MVP of the Cup. To date, he has been named FIFA Player of the Year three times. His club team, Real Madrid, takes on the L.A. Galaxy of the MLS tonight at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

The Salvation Army Red Shield Youth and Community Center serves more than 2,800 children in this Los Angeles community and for more than 54 years the Center has provided a safe and positive place for children and their families to learn and spend time together.

“These children will never forget this day and this field will be here for years to come and for generations of families to enjoy. It is a wonderful day,” added Irene Lewis, Executive Director of the Salvation Army.

Grass on the old Center field had been replaced by dirt and rock, as it would see more than 10,000 youth players in an average eight months. It remains one of the only viable playing surfaces in an area that includes nine elementary schools, two middle schools and two senior high schools.

“The U.S. Soccer Foundation is proud to join with the Red Shield Youth and Community Center, NikeGO, and HUD to bring this state-of-the-art soccer field to downtown Los Angeles,” said Matt Sicchio, Senior Manager of Grants Programs and Legal Affairs for the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “As the major charitable arm of soccer in the United States, the Foundation shares the Center’s vision for using soccer to make a positive difference in the lives of children in Los Angeles.”

The new soccer field at the Center is made possible by donations from NikeGO, Nike’s signature U.S. community affairs program and long-term commitment to get kids physically active, and the U.S. Soccer Foundation. The Foundation and NikeGO are partnering to build 50 similar fields over 5 years through the Foundation’s All Conditions Fields grants program. In addition, the Foundation contributed funds from a Neighborhood Initiatives Program Grant it received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The FieldTurf field features a high-performance, low-maintenance surface made with recycled outsole rubber from the Nike Reuse-A-Shoe program.

Nike Reuse-A-Shoe is an integral part of NikeGO, which aims to help get kids active by providing them the means to do it. Reuse-A-Shoe collects, slices, and grinds up old and unusable athletic shoes to make Nike Grind material, which is then used in a variety of sports surfaces, called NikeGO Places. The amount of Nike Grind outsole rubber waste used in the creation of the Salvation Army Red Shield Youth and Community Center field is equivalent to the rubber used in approximately 60,000 pairs of athletic shoes.

Since its inception in 1993, Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe program has recycled more than 16 million pairs of shoes, and has donated more than 170 NikeGO Places – basketball and tennis courts, tracks, fields and playground surfaces – in communities around the world.

About Nike: NIKE, Inc. based in Beaverton, Oregon is the world’s leading designer, marketer and distributor of authentic athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories for a wide variety of sports and fitness activities. Wholly owned Nike subsidiaries include Converse Inc., which designs, markets and distributes athletic footwear, apparel and accessories; Bauer NIKE Hockey Inc., a leading designer and distributor of hockey equipment; Cole Haan ®, which designs, markets, and distributes fine dress and casual shoes and accessories; Hurley International LLC, which designs, markets and distributes action sports and youth lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories and Exeter Brands Group LLC, which designs and markets athletic footwear and apparel for the value retail channel.

About the U.S. Soccer Foundation: The U.S. Soccer Foundation, the major charitable arm of soccer in the United States, and its Official National Partner, NikeGO, have combined forces to award ten (10) $100,000 grants per year in support of the Foundation’s All Conditions Fields (ACF) Program. The Foundation and NikeGO have teamed with six soccer industry leaders – Ballard Sports, Clough Harbour & Associates, FieldTurf, Kwik Goal, Musco Sports Lighting and TGI Systems - to bring a lighted, synthetic grass package to the soccer marketplace. The ACF Program provides a one-stop-shopping opportunity, along with discounted pricing for soccer-specific products and services, to clubs, leagues, and communities interested in building fields which can be utilized in all conditions. For more information, or to donate online, please visit www.ussoccerfoundation.org.