As has been proven time and time again, even after a player's career with the Chicago Fire ends, they still have the opportunity to remain a part of the club's community.
It appears Dasan Robinson won't be an exception in that regard.
The former Fire defender and Evanston, Illinois native made a special guest appearance at the Independent Supporters Association Section 8 board meeting on Wednesday night. He spoke about his charitable endeavors, which include an upcoming mission project to South Africa with Athletes in Action, an organization that promotes Christian values through sports.
Robinson, who is also involved with Urban Initiatives, said that the opportunity to work with those who are less fortunate across the globe is something he's deeply passionate about.
"You see some of the lifestyles that they live over (in South Africa) where some of our poorest and least unfortunate (in the United States) would be deemed middle-class over there," he said.
He added that soccer in particular is such a global game that it provides opportunities with people across the world.
"Soccer is such a world game and it brings so much out of people around the world," he added. "They love the game from right out of the crib."
Robinson was selected by the Fire in the 2006 Supplemental Draft after playing his college ball at the University of Dayton. He played for the Men in Red until the 2011 season, when he was traded to Toronto FC during midseason for current Fire defender Dan Gargan and a second-round MLS Superdraft pick (which was later used to select striker Lucky Mkosana).
After less than two months north of the border, Robinson was traded again to the Los Angeles Galaxy, where despite limited playing time, he was a part of the Galaxy team that won the 2011 MLS Cup. Shortly after, in early 2012, Robinson retired from professional soccer.
Now still only 28, Robinson is able to focus a good amount of time to his charitable projects. And despite winning an MLS Cup, he says winning the 2006 US Open Cup with the Fire was the highlight of his pro career.
"It was a great moment in my career and I'll never forget it," Robinson said. "I gave my ring to my mom, so she was definitely happy about it."
He says the trophy was extra special because of his connection with Fire fans.
"When we won the Open Cup, it was such an unbelievable experience and I was so happy, not only for the team and the players, but for the fans," he said. "The fans put so much into it with travel and, whatever the weather was like, they're there for us and it's always good to know that they always have your backs just like family."
Section 8 ISA Chair Joel Piktel says the organization is almost always willing to help out members of the Fire community with worthwhile initiatives.
"Off the field, he's got a heart of gold and he's very earnest in his commitment to give to the community and his commitment to work with kids," Piktel said. "It fits in line with what Section 8 has always been about."
Robinson will work with Section 8 to promote some of his fundraising efforts. This includes a soccer tournament in Melrose Park on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and auctioning off items for the cause. These items include a Chicago Fire 2012 team signed ball, a game worn 2009 jersey and a pair of authentic goalie gloves signed by current Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
He'll have to move quickly though. He leaves for South Africa on December 6 and needs to raise $3500 before that date. Once that's accomplished however, he'll join the Athletes in Action group which includes current and former pro players from across different levels of professional soccer in America, including Philadelphia Union midfielder Michael Lahoud and Chivas USA defender James Riley.
More information on how to help Dasan on his journey is expected to be available shortly.
- A lively crowd of just under 25 people made it out to The Atlantic Bar in Lincoln Square for the November 2012 Section 8 ISA meeting. In the background, the projector played first the postponed New York Red Bulls v. D.C. United match and then the Sporting Kansas City v. Houston Dynamo as supporters expressed their disdain for various players and teams throughout the evening.
- In addition to Robinson, another notable person in attendance was Emigdio Gamboa, the Fire's Vice President of Marketing and Communications.
- A league-wide issue that recently resurfaced was the issue of flares and how MLS' marketing efforts continue to promote the "edginess" of the league while taking legal action against those who set them alight.
Piktel said he believes the supporters groups have a responsibility to bring these issues up to the league when they arise.
"When they are hypocritical, it's up to (supporters groups) to call them on that and say, you know, you're saying these items are banned and then using them in promotions, and really just kind of shaming them and kind of setting up the bumpers on their (actions)," he said after the meeting.
For Section 8 in particular though, Piktel says the organization will focus on itself first and foremost.
"We've been on the cutting-edge and at the forefront of everything supporters-related," he said. "We're going to keep doing what we're doing and try to keep what we do positive and more engaging and self-sustaining and not worry about the league."
- And even though the offseason is here earlier than expected, the ISA has a number of events planned to keep supporters involved during the winter and plans to introduce more in the coming weeks and months ahead.
- At the meeting, ISA Vice-Chair Jeff Marinacci announced that the 2012 Holiday Party will be taking place at reggae club The Wild Hare on Friday, December 21.
- Also, the second annual New Years Day indoor soccer tournament will take place at ChiTown Futbol. Not a bad way to sweat off that hangover.
- The next ISA board meeting will take place on Wednesday, December 5