Arlando Griffin is a Cincinnati 5th-grader who loves soccer. Now he’s headed to NYC’s Fashion Week with FC Cincinnati’s kit unveiling
Arlando Griffin is 11 years old, a big brother and a right midfielder for the West End Pride, his neighborhood soccer team and one that’s sponsored by FC Cincinnati.
In other words, a typical fifth grader.
That’s about to change. He’s about to be thrust into the spotlight this week when he serves as a model for FC Cincinnati’s 2020 season kit in a Fashion Week show in New York City.
Instead of team-by-team reveals, this year Major League Soccer and Adidas – a league sponsor – will unveil the league’s complete collection of 2020 jerseys all at once in a fashion show.
Each team is sending a jersey model.
Among those headed to New York for the event, per a league press release, MLS greats Alexi Lalas,Jack Jewsbury and Jaime Moreno; pro football players Boston Scott and Deandre Hopkins; actor Colin Hanks; YouTube star Dude Perfect; and rapper Murs.
And, of course, Arlando.
“I really wanted to play soccer,” Arlando said. “I played football and I play baseball, too, but I wanted to try soccer.”
So when FC Cincinnati brought it the neighborhood, he signed up right away.
Kate Solomon, FC Cincinnati vice president of community relations, said the decision to chose somebody from the the West End, where the team is building its stadium, was easy.
“Bringing Arlando to New York City really shows the core values of the club and how important the community is to our entire organization,” Solomon said. “It was tough to choose somebody, but also an easy decision. Arlando has been playing with the West End Pride since it launched.”
In the first season, in 2018, just 30 kids signed up. Then, in the following two seasons in 2019, there were 120 kids last spring and 100 last fall. And it’s growing, Solomon said.
FC Cincinnati players come and help out now and again. Nick Hagglund is Griffin’s favorite, but he ticks off the names of many players he looks up to, Allan Cruz and Kendall Waston among them.
Angel Griffin, Arlando’s mom, was shocked to get the call a few months ago. Arlando’s dad and Pride coach, Christopher Griffin, and Arlando’s brother, Aiden Griffin, 8, are going to New York City, too, to watch Arlando’s runway debut.
Arlando said he’s nervous, but has been practicing his walk, learned via YouTube videos. He demonstrated for The Enquirer on the day his photo was taken, nailing the cool look models possess on the runway. He’s ready, but said, “I’m nervous about going on stage.”
Even Arlando hasn’t seen the mystery jersey fans are speculating about. He’ll have to wait for fashion show day, Wednesday, Feb. 5, just like everyone else.
But when Arlando talks about soccer, it’s New York City that’s on his mind. He talks about his friends on his team, his first goal – which he described as “amazing” though he forgets which team it was against – and the fact that his team was undefeated last year.
As he and Aiden, who plays on another West End Pride team, wait for the soccer season to start, they’ve been known to kick the ball around in the house – a Griffin house no-no.
“Aiden will move the ball around with his feet, then pass to Arlando,” Angel Griffin said. “Even thought they’re not allow to play in the house.”
It’s resulted in broken pictures, a shattered wine glass and the revelation, during this interview, that playing with the ball in the house messed up window blinds just the day before.
Angel Griffin smiles. She knows. It’s just part of the soccer life.
On Wednesday, follow Enquirer FC Cincinnati reporter Pat Brennan for the kit reveal on Twitter at @pbrennanENQ