Soccer is a sport that often involves a full 90 minutes of intense physical activity, including running, jumping, sprinting, and kicking. Because it requires such a high level of stamina and fitness, proper nutrition is paramount to players’ success on the field. However, soccer sensations aren’t the only ones who need better knowledge about using food for fuel. That’s why soccer pros from the New York City Football Club teamed up with renowned Harlem chef Marcus Samuelsson to teach some local students about how to better nourish their bodies with healthy, delicious food.
Dozens of children from Lexington Academy headed to Chef Samuelsson’s acclaimed Harlem restaurant, Ginny’s Supper Club. There, they learned about proper nutrition and were served fresh fare like kale salad with apples and onions.
But these kids weren’t deterred by the unconventional foods. Lexington Academy has focused on the need for proper nutrition, given that it’s located in an area where residents are plagued with health issues like diabetes and blood pressure.
Samuelsson told the students that “you can’t eat pizza every day if you want to get your muscles up.” Samuelson should know, too; he took up cooking when he was cut from his school’s soccer team.
The school has also made fitness a prime priority, specifically when it comes to its soccer program. It’s the first public school in New York City to have an enclosed soccer field on the roof.
Jason Hernandez, one of the international soccer pros who attended from NYCFC, stressed the importance of working hard to achieve their goals — not just through fitness and nutrition, but through their education, too.
“Education was very important in my house,” Hernandez said. “If I didn’t get good grades, I couldn’t play soccer.”
Dispensing both healthful grub and life advice, Samuelsson added, “You have to work hard. You have to make sacrifices.”
Keeping their future in mind, the students seemed to eat both right up.