by Moira Cullings
KANSAS CITY, Kansas — In less than four years, Kansas City will be one of 11 U.S. cities to host the 2026 World Cup.
As the excitement mounts, Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas has another reason to celebrate.
“After a massive campus renovation that was completed this spring, everyone is thrilled that students can make full use of the [new] spaces,” said Michaela Remijo, director of marketing and communications at Donnelly.
One of the additions is a mini outdoor grass football pitch, which is already recognized as a gem in the area.
“It’s one of the best small-sided pitches in Kansas City,” said Brennan Williams, director of youth football programming for Sporting KC, “and Donnelly is looking to use the pitch to help create a sense of community on campus.
“The first pickup event we held last week was a great example of the game bringing people together.”
On September 9, representatives from Sporting KC joined the college in hosting a soccer tournament on the field.
Students were invited to play, socialize and enjoy pizza with their classmates, teachers and club representatives. They also had the opportunity to participate in a draw for tickets to Sporting KC.
The partnership is a way for Sporting KC to get involved in the Kansas City community by providing activities, community services, and internship and training opportunities for youth and young adults.
“Kansas City is America’s soccer capital for a reason,” Williams said. “Although already far [and] far from the most popular youth sport in the city, there is still so much growth going on.
“We hope to unite and inspire the community through the sport of football and develop the next generation of players and fans.”
Msgr. Stuart Swetland, president of Donnelly, looked forward to having fun and playing ball with his students.
“If you look at John Paul II, who himself was such a great sportsman, what he wrote about the role of sport [is] it teaches virtue,” he said. “It teaches people about teamwork and sacrifice.
“And of course St. Paul used many athletic metaphors when talking about the spiritual life. So we like to think about that when we get together and kick the ball.
Remijio said Donnelly has been hosting a welcome week for his students for several years now, but this one was special because of the new area.
She hopes the event was memorable for the University community and that the Sporting KC partnership will continue to grow.
“With the exciting announcement that Kansas City will be a host city for the 2026 World Cup and the construction of KC Current’s all-new women’s soccer stadium,” she said, “we at Donnelly are grateful to support and be part of this football awareness and growth in the city.
Williams, who has attended a World Cup before, said one of her favorite things about the event was the community’s welcome to visitors.
“I know that’s something Kansas City will also excel at when we welcome the world,” he said.
For now, Donnelly students can focus on sports in their own backyards.
“From our first event in Donnelly,” he said, “it’s clear that the students already have a passion for the sport.
“Even for those just starting out in football, with everything happening in Kansas City in the next few years, there will be more opportunities than ever for fans of all ages to fall in love with the game.”