The Chicago youth soccer team seeks funding to travel to the national championship following a tragedy

CHICAGO — Tim Hall believes he trains in one of the toughest neighborhoods in the city of Chicago.

Hall says his soccer team even practices target practice.

“Most teams are probably not at East Garfield Park,” Hall said.

Over the decades, some of the young players who called Hall “Coach” have lost their lives to gun violence.

SEE ALSO: Relatives remember her mother, who died weeks after the West Rogers Park shooting

“It was a bad year. Two former players were murdered and one high school player was murdered,” Hall said.

A few months ago, the Garfield Gators family suffered another tragedy.

“It was really hard for me to deal with because my mom was my best friend,” said son Aiden, whose 28-year-old mother, Aiesha Lewis, was shot dead at West Rogers Park in September. “I have to deal with her not coming back and I have a little brother to take care of.”

The young soccer player said he had been bullied at school since the deadly shooting.

“Now she’s gone. No one understands where I’m from when I say I’m really, really hurt,” Aiden said.

Coach Hall tries to empower his boys by taking them on the journey of a lifetime.

“We are raising funds to bring our football team to Florida for the 2022 national championships,” Hall said.

“I’m an honorary All-Star. These guys behind me are all-stars too. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity where I can travel to Florida and actually have fun,” added Aiden.

Coach Hall said they had a few surprises in mind when they arrived in Florida — a trip to an amusement park or meeting their namesake.

“We are alligators. I always take them to Alligator Square so they can see the alligators. Let them hold them, play with them, pet them, let them know you’re a real alligator,” Hall said.

The All-Star trip is scheduled for December 2nd. The cost of bringing 40 children to Florida, plus a few accompanying adults, would be around $30,000.

Continue reading: Latest headlines from Chicago

The team has set up a fundraiser to help reach the goal, but Hall says even if they don’t reach that goal, they will find a way to get on the plane.

“We’re still going somewhere. Somehow God will find a way for us to get there,” Hall said.

“I made my mom take care of me and my little brother,” Aiden added. “Go, alligators.” The Chicago youth soccer team seeks funding to travel to the national championship following a tragedy

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