New sports complex opens at Chicago Hope Academy for the Chicago Lions Rugby Club

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago Lions Rugby Club, along with Chicago Hope Academy, opened their new complex for the youths of North Lawndale and East Garfield Park communities Saturday at Nollman Field.

The new complex is designed to be a multi purpose home for sports, including Rugby, to give young kids opportunities they may not have had.

"It's always been important to us," said President of the Chicago Lions Charitable Association, Jeff Simon. "We've always wanted to give back. It's part of rugby culture and we always wanted to give back, it just really created an opportunity for us to do it. So this is our home, so why not be involved with the community and the people."

"Everyone says, 'What sport do you play,'" said Keandre Bates, who plays for the Chicago Lions Rugby Club. "It's the toughest sport in the world, it's a real man sport. So, I'm so excited because today was our opening game. Even though we lost, we put all our effort into it."

"We're very excited," said Chicago Lions Director of youth activity, Andy Rose. "This has been a huge project for the club. To come to see it now on this field is just such a great opportunity. Huge for the community and what we're trying to do on the youth side."

"It's much more than about Rugby for us. Rugby is just the avenue that we use all these fundamental building blocks for life," said Chicago Lions player and coach, Slater Nelson. "Discipline, integrity, communication and teamwork. Really just working on helping them be their best selves."
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