Kristjan's fellow soccer players remember their friend at Boys & Girls Club fund-raiser
Playing soccer was secondary for those who gathered on April 5 at the Boys & Girls Club in Shelton.
The many dozens of youngsters who participated did play continuous short games throughout the day, but the real purpose was to remember their late friend, teammate and soccer colleague Kristjan Ndoj.
Kristjan, who died March 20 from gunshots suffered five days earlier, had played in the Boys & Girls Club’s winter high school soccer league. It was a sport he loved and excelled at, his family members have said.
The Saturday event, which raised money for the Ndoj family, began with a moment of silence.
“Everyone knows why we’re here, so let’s stand up and have a moment of silence,” said Karen Forlenzo, a Shelton parent who helped organize the Kicking It for Kristjan fund-raiser.
In response, all the youngsters and adults in the club’s large gym stood up and solemnly honored Kristjan.
'So many good things to say about him'
Jim Ferris, who coached Kristjan on the B-2 Bombers team, was another adult who helped organize the event.
“Kristjan was such a respectful kid as well as a great soccer player,” Ferris said. “He was a great teammate. He never lost his temper. He was smart. There are so many good things to say about him.”
Ferris has three children — Brian, David and Kristen — who played with Kristjan in the club’s co-ed league, and two of them were able to participate in the fund-raiser.
Both boys and girls participated in the five-hour event, with most of them being in their early teens. Youngsters came and went throughout the day.
Teammate: ‘He was a really kind kid’
Kevin Kuna, 17, played on the B-2 Bombers with Kristjan.
“He was a really kind kid,” said Kevin, a Shelton High School junior. “He came every day and was really excited and ready to play.”
Ferris said Kristjan had played his last game with the team when the indoor winter league season ended, which was three days before the incident that would take his life.
Forlenzo said the league provided a great place for kids to spend time together and work on their athletic skills. “They all like to laugh and have a good time together,” she said.
Fellow players wanted to help
Like Ferris and other adults at the event, Forlenzo said the inspiration for the event came from Kristjan’s fellow players. Forlenzo’s son Austin had played with Kristjan in the club league.
“The boys just wanted to do something for him and his family,” Forlenzo said.
Ferris said the tragedy really impacted the other youngsters. “The team was just devastated,” he said. “He was very well liked, so it was really, really hard on them. This is a way to pay tribute to him.”
Cheryl Peterson of Shelton, whose son Brett was on the B-2 Bombers, said Kristjan’s teammates and other league players “took it quite hard.”
Peterson was one of those volunteering at the food area during the event.
“The boys really wanted to do something because they all got along so well, and had a great time playing,” Peterson said. “It’s a team sport, and they had a lot of fun together.”
T-shirts, refreshments and donations
Participants purchased Kicking It for Kristjan T-shirts and made other voluntary donations. Food items, such as baked goods, water and pizza, were sold at the site.
All proceeds will go to the Ndoj family, who came to America in 2008 for a better life. Kristjan is survived by a mother, father, older brother, and grandmother.
The police investigation into Kristjan Ndoj’s shooting death continues.