LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Little Rock Police Department hosted its first ever community soccer game Saturday night at Otter Creek Park.
LRPD believes it was a win-win for everyone; no matter the final score.
They highlighted how the real goal of this event wasn't about who won, it was about the relationships built out on the pitch.
It was a beautiful, sunny summer night. The perfect weather for a friendly community soccer game; a special match that was the first of its kind.
Sgt. Kendel Cole of the Little Rock Police Department said this idea of a community soccer game was dreamt up in May.
"Officer Hernandez and I were just talking about things we could do to reach out to the community, especially our Hispanic community, and of course soccer is a big sport for the Hispanic community," he said.
Sgt. Cole said the Little Rock Police Department wanted to unite with the Latino community to let them know they can trust the officers underneath the uniforms and badges.
"We want them to know they can call the police. If they have questions, need any assistance. You know the police department here in the United States is not like their home country. If they call us, we will respond and we are here to assist," he said.
Sgt. Cole said they want to be able to assist on and off the soccer field.
There were 20 police officers and 20 community members that made up the two teams. They spent days practicing and getting their shin guards ready for this game.
A game that one community member, Miguel Lopez, described as a blessing.
"We live in the community. We are living in the same area and to be on the same team as them for even 90 minutes together on the pitch. You'll be able to create a bond with them that'll last a long time," he said.
Lopez said this is a special connection that only soccer can do.
"It's been great to meet members of the LRPD, be on the same team as them and really break down those barriers we kind of always felt and just to know that they're human just like us and they are here to protect and serve," he said.
Lopez said this was the perfect way for the Hispanic community to get to know what lies within the thin blue line.
"That just kind of gives me chills that they are willing to reach out and so is the community 'cause it takes a two-way street for both parties to reach out and what's cooler than saying, 'hey we will meet you out there on the pitch,'" he said.
Everyone involved was extremely grateful for the friendships that were formed, but they didn't forget there was a clear winner or loser. Both teams were very confident they were going to take home the trophies.
The First Community Bank team ended up winning the game six to five.
The Little Rock Police Department said they want to make this an annual event and hopefully have four teams participating next year.