The last week of the regular season was a memorable one for Sacramento Republic. It was our last home game before the playoffs, with second place in the Western Conference on the line. It was also the final #5yearsofglory match, which celebrates the five years of the club’s history. But this match was most memorable for a completely different reason: we had a new player.
BREAKING: Republic FC sign 15-year-old Matthew Harding through @MakeAWishCANV.
Matthew becomes the youngest player in club history to be signed to a first-team contract. Congratulations, Matthew!
Sac Republic signed Matthew Harding through Make-A-Wish to a one-game professional contract. Matthew has always dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player, and he always dreamed of playing with Sacramento Republic. That wish came true with the help of UC Davis Medical Center and Make-A-Wish Northeastern & Central California and Northern Nevada. Matthew visited the UC Davis Medical Center thinking he was going to get a cool scarf from the club, but instead was surprised by Republic FC staff, Make-A-Wish staff, and UC Davis Health staff & doctors waiting to congratulate him.
Matthew’s first training session with the team. Arriving to the locker room for 10 am training, he seemed a bit shy and maybe a bit nervous–but who wouldn’t be? Walking into a locker room full of professional soccer players and coaches for the first time would intimidate just about everyone…
Once getting on his gear though? Different story. As soon as he hit the field, Matthew wasn’t shy at all. He was calm, he was focused, and he was excited. He was all-in.
The more that he integrated with the team, the more that all of us recognized his skills on the ball. He was knocking the ball around in 5v2 boxes before we transitioned to some patterns where he started smashing in some goals.
By the end of training, it looked like he belonged.
Going to be a special night tomorrow at Papa Murphy’s Park. Get there early to watch our new teammate, Matthew! Love being a part of this club https://t.co/l9CQZ5fvT9
Leading us out onto the field for our last regular season match, Matthew didn’t seem fazed. He wasn’t fazed by the sights and sounds. He wasn’t fazed by the stadium, the lights, or the 11,500 people on their feet in the stands. And he sure wasn’t going to let this moment faze him.
The rest is hard to describe in words. It was a special moment for a special kid–and it was something that everyone involved will never forget. Watch his debut video below!
I’m proud to have shared the pitch with Matthew, and I’m proud to play for a club like Sacramento Republic. I’ve always believed that sports are meant to bring people together. Sports are meant to make memories, to form relationships, and to share the success and the struggle with each other. This night was a remarkable representation of that.
Thank you, Matthew!
GOAL: A teenager with a rare cancer had his Make-A-Wish request granted by the Sacramento Republic FC to become an honorary member of the team, and scoring a goal against the Las Vegas Lights FC in front of 11,000 roaring fans. https://t.co/Q0rKTYPzb9pic.twitter.com/GAKA6Rba4R