VANCOUVER, BC – Yordy Reyna has been feeling a bit helpless as of late.
The 23-year-old attacking midfielder/striker suffered a fractured foot in February after a bright – albeit brief – start to the preseason and his tenure in Vancouver.
He’s been forced to watch from the sidelines ever since.
Even worse, he’s been forced to watch from afar as his home country Peru is plagued by a series of devastating floods and mudslides that have claimed the lives of more than 100 people and left approximately 200,000 homeless, according to recent reports.
In total, more than one million people have been affected.
“It’s a difficult time for the country,” Reyna told whitecapsfc.com through a translator. “Very difficult. It’s getting a little bit better, but we want all the Peruvian people to try and help with food and other things that are useful for the people in need.”
That’s why Reyna jumped at the opportunity to attend a fundraiser put on by the Peruvian consulate in Vancouver last weekend. Reyna received a personal invite from consulate general Manuel Cacho-Sousa (pictured above with Reyna) to attend the event, which raised nearly $14,000 for relief efforts.
"It destroyed everything," Cacho-Sousa said of the floods. "Not only the houses and everything, but when the water mixes with the dirt, there are a lot of mosquitoes. So there are infections, a lack of water, the roads were closed, but word has been getting around. There's been a lot of solidarity. The Canadian government has also helped. And we wanted to do our part. It may not sound like much, but every little bit counts."
Reyna, for his part, didn't have to think twice.
“If you can help others, why not?” he said.
Cacho-Sousa said that Reyna was like a celebrity at the event.
"Peru is a country that loves soccer," Cacho-Sousa told whitecapsfc.com. "Here, the community is about 6,000. They have never seen a Peruvian play here, and Yordy has played for the national team, so they were really excited to see him. He came and he took pictures with the community, signed autographs, he also made a donation himself, and the Whitecaps donated a signed jersey and ball. Everybody was happy. "
Reyna was born and raised in Chiclayo, the fourth largest city in Peru. It is located about 770 kilometres north of Lima, Peru’s capital city, where Reyna moved as a teenager to join the youth club – and eventually the first team – of Alianza Lima.
Both cities are on the coast, which means they're right in the danger zone.
This chilling photo, for example, was taken in Lima just last month.
Reyna's mother and brother still live in Peru, but they’re among the lucky ones who have not been directly affected by the floods. The same can’t be said for some of his friends.
“Their houses are damaged,” Reyna said. “The water is almost reaching the height of the windows. I’m sad and a little disappointed. Some of this could have been prevented by improving the roads and some of the other things that needed to be fixed. It wasn’t done and now it’s worse. Hopefully, improvements are made in the future but now it’s about helping people with the floods, trying to get the mud out of their houses and giving people back their homes.”
Reyna is keeping a close eye on the developments in his native country as he attempts to build a life in his new home. Day by day, he said he’s feeling “more and more comfortable” in Vancouver.
And that, according to Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson, is not an insignificant thing.
“He’s mixed in with the Central Americans and the Latino group, which is very important,” Robinson told reporters. “It’s important we make his life off the field as comfortable as possible. Then he can focus on getting fit, training, and getting in the team.”
The initial diagnosis for Reyna, who remains in a walking boot, was that he’d be back to full training in the summer and Robinson said there’s no new timetable at this point.
Reyna does, however, feel like he’s making progress.
“It was hard to get injured so quickly, but now I’m excited because I feel like I’m moving forward with my recovery,” he said. “I’m very excited to get on the field. I’m always supporting the team and hopefully I can be with them again soon.”
Reyna just wants life to get back to normal – here in Vancouver and especially back home.