Baseball great Nomar Garciaparra made his name on the diamond, but he also grew up on fields playing soccer. The Mexican-American, whose uncle Javier "Zully" Ledesma is a former goalkeeper and coach, loved the game growing up. Thus, it wasn't hard for him to be convinced to join the new ownership group for Los Angeles Football Club, the newest addition to Major League Soccer.
Nomar talks about how he used to play soccer growing up. pic.twitter.com/pPYqrldCpO
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"I don't have to go anywhere," said Garciaparra, of investing into an L.A. soccer club. Garciaparra, who does color commentary for local Los Angeles Dodgers broadcasts now, still lives in Whittier, where he was born and raised.
Another investor alongside Garciaparra is his wife, soccer great Mia Hamm Garciaparra. The couple have three children, twin girls and a boy. While not committing their futures to any athletic endeavor, Garciaparra mentioned that it's possible all of them could play for LAFC one day, since the organization is looking at the possibility of adding a women's team down the line.
"First we've got to build our stadium, but that's one of the things we've talked about. We've put a lot of options on the table."
The site of LAFC's stadium is in Exposition Park, right in the heart of Los Angeles, and Garciaparra felt that was an ideal location. "I grew up playing soccer here. I know for the Hispanic population here, what it means, how they love football. It's more than a game -- it's a way of life. Now they have a team in the heart of the city."
Though MLS has many Hispanic players in the league, Garciaparra is part of a much smaller Latino representation in the ownership ranks. "L.A. is very diverse, there's so many nationalities involved. Our ownership is very diverse as well - we've got Will Ferrell," said Garciaparra of the popular comedic actor, one of LAFC's new investors.
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For Garciaparra, hiring a Latino coach for the new team isn't an absolute must, but a key element. Oscar Pareja of FC Dallas is currently the only Hispanic head coach among MLS teams in the USA. "It's important to have diverse management," said Garciaparra. "What great about this ownership group is that we talk about everything, and I'll definitely have input."
Until LAFC get their stadium finished and join the league schedule, the five-time champion Los Angeles Galaxy are the only local "futbol" club, though their stadium is in nearby Carson. However, the NFL has recently had three football teams (Chargers, Rams, Raiders) apply to move to the city. Garciaparra wasn't concerned about the competition from so many sporting options.
"Look how large Los Angeles is," Garciaparra pointed out. "There are a lot of passionate sports fans here. The city can embrace all of it."
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