COMMERCE CITY CO (ColoradoRapids.com)- Major League Soccer announced today that Colorado Rapids defender Jose Luis Burciaga Jr. has been awarded the 2008 MLS Humanitarian of the Year Award presented by the U.S. Soccer Foundation and MLS W.O.R.K.S.
Burciaga becomes the second Colorado Rapids player to ever win the award as the league's top humanitarian given to the MLS player who makes the most positive impact by giving his time and efforts off the field to charitable endeavors each year. He joins former Rapids player Chris Henderson on the list of all-time recipients who took home the award in 2004.
Burciaga who joined the Rapids on January 16 of this year is a seven-year MLS veteran and native of Oak Cliff Texas. He has been very active in philanthropic efforts throughout 2008.
He is being recognized as an exemplary athlete within the community based on his work with the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Passback Program and the establishment of his foundation the Jose Luis Burciaga Jr. Foundation.
Burciaga's foundation focuses on the positive impact of sports and the ideals of teamwork discipline and respect in the developing of young minds. The foundation promotes youth involvement in sports education community service and cultural awareness.
Burciaga has led by example on the field and off this year. He navigated his hectic schedule to lead U.S. Soccer Foundation Passback clinics when he had time away from the Rapids in 2008. In one specific weekend he traveled to Dallas in his home state of Texas to run a clinic and returned to Denver the next morning to make sure he was present for an afternoon Passback clinic held there as well.
By demonstrating his impressive soccer skills and speaking to children about the impact soccer has made on his life Burciaga regularly gives back to the community.
Burciaga believes that through the power of sport any individual can overcome difficulty and adapt to any situation. It is his hope that he can positively impact the lives of the children by showing them the positive life skills he has learned through soccer. Burciaga’s work with the U.S. Soccer Foundation and MLS W.O.R.K.S. in addition to his efforts with the Rapids' official charity the Rapids Community Care Foundation speak volumes to his commitment to the community on a local and national level.
In his soccer career Burciaga has overcome times of adversity including torn ligaments in both knees. In 2007 after recovering from injuries that plagued him early in his career he was named to the MLS Best XI team as one of the top defenders in the League.
A consummate professional Burciaga played in 11 games for the Rapids this season recording a goal and an assist on the year.
The MLS Humanitarian of the Year Award is sponsored annually by the US Soccer Foundation which was established in 1994 to manage the surplus funds generated by the 1994 FIFA World Cup held in the U.S. As the major charitable arm of soccer in the U.S. the Foundation has invested more than $48 million in the game supporting hundreds of projects in every state in the country. The Foundation provides grants to programs that develop players coaches and referees in economically disadvantaged urban areas. Field grants from the Foundation support the construction and improvement of soccer fields and provide young people with more places and opportunities to play.
All-Time U.S. Soccer Foundation MLS Humanitarian of the Year Award winners:
2008: Jose Luis Burciaga Jr. – Colorado Rapids
2007: Diego Gutierrez – Chicago Fire
2006: Michael Parkhurst – New England Revolution
2005: Brian Kamler – Real Salt Lake
2004: Chris Henderson – Colorado Rapids
2003: Ben Olsen – D.C. United
2002: Steve Jolley – MetroStars
2001: Tim Howard – MetroStars
2000: Abdul T. Conteh – San Jose Earthquakes