Interview: Kyle Weiss, 2011 HALO Award Winner
Kyle at the W Hotel
So FUNDaFIELD started after a trip to the World Cup, right? Can you talk about that a little?
In 2006, when I was 13, I went to Germany with my brother and my parents, and we talked to some Angola fans. They were only a small section of the stadium -- a sliver of red -- and they were like the luckiest people in the country to be there, because it was Angola's first trip to the World Cup after 26 years of civil war.
After we talked to the fans, we wanted to send some equipment over or do something to help. I think what really sparked it for me, was when we came back and told a bunch of our friends who played soccer, and all of them really got into it. We were gonna send some equipment over. We were soccer kids, it just seemed like a good idea. We weren't really thinking it through at the time. Someone said "Oh, we should build a field first and send equipment, and they can hold tournaments."
What has been your proudest moment with FUNDaFIELD?
In 2008, we went to South Africa and we held this huge tournament to open up our first field. We gave all the kids jerseys we brought over in boxes. Then we went back during this World Cup, and they didn't know we were coming. We didn't even know which day we were gonna get there. We're driving through one of the villages, and we saw like 30 kids and they had on our jerseys and T-shirts. Some of the kids on our team who had been on the earlier trip were like "I gave that kid that jersey!"
At another one of our tournaments, for one of the games, they had the "Big Mommas" play. It was like, the teachers at the school vs. the moms in the community. When one of the teams scored, all the grandmas did a lap around the field, yelling to celebrate. That was really cool.
So the whole community gets involved?
Oh, yeah. There' ll be like 2000 people at a tournament, which you know... in Africa, there's no social media. They tell us that it's the biggest thing that's ever happened in the community.
How did you get all the donations to Africa?
For the fields, we hired people over there, and for the equipment, we'd lay it out in our garage, in piles two to three feet off the ground, and we'd spend hours sorting. Like "We need large pink jerseys. We need large blue jerseys. We need small green shorts." We have a system now where we wrap it all up, tape it up, and put it in boxes, and we carry it over on the plane as our extra box. That's kind of a requirement to go on our trips... you have to carry a box of equipment over.
Did anything about visiting Africa surprise you?
You think that because people have such hard lives, it would be recognizable, but they're so much NICER there. Everyone is so much more appreciative. Even if they can't feed their own family, if you're visiting their house, they will make a feast for you. They will figure out a way, and they will love the fact that you're eating in their house. It's really cool. Everyone should get to Africa.
Kyle on the Halo Awards orange carpet
For me, it's always a question of passion or things you're interested in. There are a lot of causes that are awesome, and I say I'd love to help out, but realistically, I probably never would. But with this, I'm doing soccer, and my family is a crazy soccer family, so for us, half the time, we're working -- and we're working REALLY hard -- but it's fun. Like, we can go play soccer, you know? It's a good time. Finding things that you actually care about makes it so much easier. Every passion has some cause associated with it.
What would you like to see FUNDaFIELD accomplish in the future?
As a team, our goal is that in every community that's gone through some kind of traumatic experience, they'll have a soccer field at a school. That helps keep the kids in school, because if there's a soccer field, they want to go to school.
When you won the HALO Award, how did Nick Cannon surprise you?
They told us they were filming a short video clip, and they interviewed some of our team members. They were filming our FUNDaFIELD team meeting and...[Watch the show to find out what happens next!]
What was meeting David Beckham like?
I was getting ready to go to college -- I go to Claremont McKenna -- and they flew me down to LA like two days before college started. I had my suspicions that it would be something soccer related. We went to the Home Depot Center, and that's where the Galaxy plays. When I got to the stadium, I didn't know what player I'd be meeting. You can never assume it's Beckham, because he's one of the biggest players in the world. They had me walking around the stadium, and then I walked into a room, and he was just sitting there... [Watch the show to find out what happens next!]
What was he like in person?
He was really nice and down to earth. Not shy, but like... really nice. He was doing this press conference, and while we were waiting for them to film, he was joking about how he never knows what to do when the cameras are on him. He's an underwear model and a world-class soccer player, but he's so nice, just quiet and laughing. He was a really cool guy.
Watch Kyle helping and leading others on the 2011 TeenNick HALO Awards, premiering Nov. 6th at 8pm on Nick@Nite. Follow @KyleDavidWeiss and @FUNDaFIELD on Twitter, and check out the FUNDaFIELD website!
Kyle Weiss and David Beckham!