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KICKit World: Empowering Youth Through Street Sports, Music, and Education

May 5, 2024

Read the full interview on JustNowNews.press!

A Revolutionary Festival Creating Opportunities for Youth Empowerment and Community Connection

Introducing KICKit World, the first ever street sports festival with one goal: to inspire and empower the youth. Taking place on Saturday, April 6th at 1500 Sound Academy in Inglewood, this one-of-a-kind experience combined streets, sports, music, fashion, and lifestyle all into one, inviting people from all walks of life to conjoin, connect, and learn something new.

The sports aspect included a skateboard ramp, half court, and pickle ball court, while attendees enjoyed live musical performances from some of their favorite artists such as Rich The Kid, Lakeyah, and LaRussell. But the star of the show was certainly Will Smith’s son, Jaden Smith, who arrived during the daytime to a swarm of fans.

Not only did Smith give out free meals from his I Love You vegan food truck and free water from Just Water, he also led a highly-anticipated Masterclass that yielded a candid conversation exploring Earth and sustainability. Cameras were not permitted as the gems spoken from his mouth were only available to those lucky enough to sit in that room with him.

Next to Jaden was the founder of KICKit World, Thorsten Meier, who is the brains behind this entire project. In fact, the City of Inglewood Mayor Pro Tem and Council member Eloy presented a City Commendation certificate to Meier on stage at the event. Especially given the timing of the recent school closure announcements in Inglewood, KICKit World provided a fun outlet for kids who were impacted.

Shirley Ju spoke with founder Thorsten Meier, who actually funded this festival himself.

First ever KICKit World, how do you feel? How did everything go?

I feel great. I feel relieved, because it was a lot of work. To get an event of its own kind, which has never been done before — to get that off the ground, even for me who’s done a million events in his life is rather difficult. [laughs] It’s a lot of stress. It’s a lot of anxiety. It’s a lot of doubt. But when it takes place, when all of a sudden you see happy faces and you have LaRussell call you out and come on stage, then it’s different. Because it kicks in and you’re thinking: well, maybe I’ve done something. I feel great. I feel good.

Talk about your relationship with Jaden Smith and how you got him to pull up?

This started a while ago, Jaden was one of the first conversations I had. I reached out at the very beginning to a couple of people, because I thought it’s important to have buy in and support from people, especially who are very, very close with the community and understand what that vision is I’m trying to do. DJ Hed was the very first conversation, who was immediately convinced and in after five minutes of the conversation.

The second conversation was Jaden’s team. We weren’t even talking for 15 minutes and plans and ideas came up already. It was a morning meeting. In the afternoon, I got a call back from his manager, literally two or three hours after I had left their offices. He said, “I just spoke with Jaden, he’s so excited. We want to do that immediately. We absolutely love your vision, so let’s keep working on it.” A week later, Jaden was in New York, launching the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra phone. David brought him up to me and we spoke. Even though Jaden was supposed to perform, we were standing there and talking and talking and talking and talking. We didn’t stop.

This is where this all started. There were daily calls and text messages. For me, it was important to align myself with people who understand the bigger picture, who also understand it’s not about us. We’re not doing this in order to get some credit or whatever, and this is what I really, really do like about Jaden. Because Jaden is very private, very quiet, about all the good stuff he does. He doesn’t do that for PR. He doesn’t do that for clicks and views, but he does it because he really believes. To have a partner like that is tremendously important.

The thing is, we’re already planning step number two in Detroit. Jaden is all over this because of Flint, Michigan, and his water filtration system initiative. To hear somebody who also wants to look forward and do the next thing, it can’t be better than that. I met with a lot of people who don’t understand the vision and who just wanted to get money out of it. Guess what, that conversation didn’t go anywhere.

You used to work at Thriller and did live production for the VERZUZ battles. How did your background play into this festival?

My background is a little bit more than Triller, because I grew up in Europe. I come originally from hospitality. I grew up in a country where my father told me this one sentence: there are people who love and build, then there are people who hate and destroy. Make sure you’re on the right side of the equation. For me, growing up in the hospitality world, everything was about serving and helping others. Hospitality is a huge world over there.

I came here 20 years ago, I was working in the hotel business but then started my own travel and event management company. I did a lot of very, very big sporting events. During the lockdown when nobody was doing anything, I was the only one who put on 52 live television shows here in the state of California. I was event exempt by the state of California, by California State Athletic Commission and governor’s office. Again, trying to figure out what is different and being able to put something unique and special together.

Live execution happened way before I joined Triller, because this is my real background. Trying to have an idea, have a vision, then translate that into a live event, which is very, very difficult despite what people might think. This whole background, my whole education, my whole experience, my whole 30 years of professionalism really helped me to execute that. Even during the bad days, the difficult days where budget exploded or where something was not feasible because of costs or whatever — to stay on top of things and wanting to get to the end, and being persistent in the idea, that helped me a lot. That’s predominantly because of where I grew up and how I grew up.

Why did you choose to do the next one in the Midwest?

What we’re trying to do is we want to focus on destinations, which normally don’t get this type of festival. Look, I don’t want to diss anybody else, but we have so many music festivals which are totally overpriced. Not everybody has enough money to go 15 times a year to Coachella, right? Because with those $600 tickets, it’s crazy. We wanted to do something where people can afford, but people also in destinations which normally don’t get any type of those festivals can go too. That’s a reason why we are focusing on secondary destinations in the US.

That’s a reason why Detroit is important. Baltimore’s important, Houston, the cities where stuff like that doesn’t occur. You will not believe when we started the conversations with the city of Detroit, city of Baltimore, open arms! They are so excited. I was on a call with a journalist the other day from the Midwest, they said “You have no idea. This is what we need over here. This is what kids need, because nobody gives anything for the kids. There’s nothing really done for the kids.”

This Saturday, you saw at those master classes. As a regular John Doe, when do you have the opportunity to sit free of charge in front of somebody like Jaden Smith? In front of Rance Dopson (1500 or Nothin’)? Essence Carson, WNBA superstar, Olympic gold medalist — just let that sink in for a quick second. When do you have somebody like her teach you how to do three on three? And teach you how to do your three pointers? That’s priceless. That doesn’t exist, and that’s exactly why we want to do that. We’re focusing on cities which are grateful to get something like this, rather than where one festival is pushing the next one and you wouldn’t get the awareness and the momentum you’re looking for.

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