Fernando Nando Machicado
(Portland Timbers)

Vote for MLS W.O.R.K.S. Community MVP Fernando "Nando" Machicado

With intricately tattooed arms and seemigly tough guy persona, you may have seen Fernando “Nando” Machicado at Portland Timbers games in the North End cheering loudly with the Timbers Army. His distinctive face was also among the massive billboards the team featured ahead of the 2011 inaugural MLS season.

But Nando's scowl from those billboards turns to a broad grin when asked about soccer and his involvement within the Portland community.

Born in Bolivia, which meant “you have a soccer ball in your crib,” as Machicado puts it, Nando grew up playing soccer on the streets. He moved to the U.S. as a young boy and continued playing throughout his youth and now in adult leagues.

As the Timbers Army grew, Machicado became one of the founding board members of the 107 Independent Supporters Trust—the organizing entity around the Timbers Army. While the 107ists help direct the capos on matchdays and design and implement the tifo displays, they also have an impressive community outreach program that Machicado helps co-chair.

Between volunteering as a youth soccer coach at Home Forward’s public housing community Tamarack Apartments, to his community outreach commitment with the 107ists, to his role as president of Operation Pitch Invasion and their efforts at park soccer field repair, Nando was named the Portland Timbers’ representative for MLS W.O.R.K.S. Community MVP for 2012.

Vote for him as he goes up against MVPs across the league. Should he win, he’d get a trip to 2012 MLS All-Star Game. More importantly, however, he’d also be given $10,000 to donate to the charity of his choice. We chatted with him to learn more about his love of community service and his commitment to soccer.

How did you get involved with the Timbers Army and community outreach?
I joined the Timbers Army in 2003 . . . but it wasn’t that big, maybe 60, 70 people. At that time, one of the big projects was doing Habitat [for Humanity]. I found myself volunteering for a lot of those days and then throughout the year for Habitat and Oregon Food Bank.

Once we organized ourselves into an actual board of directors and committee [with the 107ist], I wanted to continue the whole community outreach aspect of the Timbers Army. It was one of the things I wanted to take the lead on.

So joining the Timbers Army was the spark for your community endeavors?
I think that doing the stuff with the Timbers Army was the catalyst for me to get that going. Seeing a bunch of people do it and seeing the satisfaction of going out there, planting trees, building houses, packing bags of food, made a huge difference to me.

I don’t have any experience in social services or community outreach. It’s just through my experiences with the TA doing volunteer work. Just going out and making a difference in the community gave me a huge amount of influence to continue that in the MLS years.

What is it about giving back that you like best?
The satisfaction of helping kids. The first year I volunteered as an assistant coach at Jefferson [High School] and seeing those kids be stoked to get new uniforms. For another adult to take an interest in their program and go out to games out in The Dalles, in Hood River and to have the support of someone else there. It was very satisfying. Seeing the kids get excited when they got new uniforms that we bought and paid for by the 107ist and the Timbers Army was amazing. We outfitted several high schools last year, delivering balls and cleats and shin guards. It seemed that it was something other than just going to matches and having great support for the team, I wanted to make sure that the TA was represented in the community. We’ve always had a philosophy about being a part of the town and being a part of the team and I wanted to make sure that that philosophy was fulfilled whether it was my lead or I got to get more people involved doing it.

What’s your role with Home Forward and Tamarack Apartments?
We’ve been working with an organization named Home Forward to build a field at the new Columbia complex [in North Portland]. During my meetings [with them], I’ve been introduced to one of the residential counselors for the Tamarack Apartments which is right down the street.

The kids last year had written a grant themselves to ask for money to have goals built in this super small area. Home Forward granted the money to get these full-size, super nice soccer goals built and so the kids were out there playing every day.

With the residential counselor, we spoke about maybe donating equipment to the program but they didn’t have anyone in the community interested in leading it or doing something. It had to be someone who would go out there and show the kids some basic soccer drills and basic soccer skills. So I committed myself to this entire summer. Every Tuesday and Thursday I’m there from 5-7pm. I’ve had a couple Timbers Army people come out and help run drills and help with the kids. We have 52 registered kids. But like tonight, I might have like, 10 to 20 show up ranging in ages from 5 to 12. The younger kids want to get a team going. They want to join a league. I tell them as long as they practice and we can get a bigger turnout, we can get 10-12 kids, 15 kids in the same age range together, I’ll do my best to put a team together for maybe one of the local rec leagues or something.

This is because I want to make sure that we go forward with our field at the Columbia. The board of directors at Home Forward are very excited about the program and they see the results. This is the most parents that the counselor has ever met. All at once. These are people from Africa, South America, Central America mostly. It’s a very diverse culture there. But none of those people wanted to come out and meet they counselor. They just want to go about their day and get things done. Now they’re getting help with whatever the counselor does with social skills and social services on top of the housing they get.

The practices bring people together?
Yeah. It’s a community. I mean, all the parents come out and watch their kids play and we’ve provided a ball for every single kid whether it’s a size 3 to a size 5 ball to make sure that every kid has a ball.

What’s your role with Operation Pitch Invasion?
Operation Pitch Invasion (OPI) came to be at the about the same time we were doing the 107ist. At that time, we had set up the 107ist as a not-for-profit organization with 11 board members. We had talked about doing capital improvements to fix soccer fields on behalf of the Timbers Army. Some of these fields are in horrible shape and we should come out here and fix these. So we needed an organization to broaden our volunteers and raise money to fix the fields up. We did two fields last year.

This year we have at least four days planned out. We’ve done one already where people came out, laid new sod down, painted the goals, replaced all the irrigation heads so the entire field gets water. We re-dug the dirt around the irrigation heads, filled holes, all the divots were re-filled, new seed was put down.

Were you to win the MLS W.O.R.K.S. Community MVP Contest, what would you do with the money?
I’d want to take the $10,000 and put it into OPI to fund a field in Columbia near the Tamarack Apartments. We have a very high cap to reach to get that field built. We have to do a lot of fundraising and a lot of grant writing to get the field built.

It’s right in between the Tamarack Apartments and the Columbia so there would be two fields there and I’m hoping to have a program there as well. I can help get a few volunteers there to help run practices maybe once or twice a week.

Why should people Vote Nando?
I think I should win because the majority of the stuff I do is soccer related which is what MLS and the Timbers are about. I’ve already given back to the community and all the money that I would win will go directly back into the community and one of the communities most in need.