(Image courtesy Alexis Nunez)
LA River School

Lack of soccer fields a problem in Northeast Los Angeles

 

In Northeast, Los Angeles, there have been issues with low-income soccer players. The problem is that there isn’t enough access to soccer fields as in past years. Soccer is something very important to the community because it gives kids an alternative in life other than the gang life our community has seen. Also soccer keeps young teens active and develops life skills such as collaboration, respect and responsibility. If there aren’t enough soccer fields for teens in our community, then that lowers the motivation for a teen to accomplish a dream of becoming a professional soccer player.

In the community there are plenty of gangs that are very dangerous due to having many rival gangs around the community. Soccer, believe it or not, can change gangsters’ lives. Andres C., a young gangster that has grown up in the community of Drew Street, has been impacted by the low access to soccer fields in the area. “There would be days that I would want to play soccer but the only option I had was to play in my street because I wouldn’t be able to go to other parks and play due to the violence and gang activity,” he said.

Living a dream of playing soccer at a professional level has been a common dream for teens around the world. Living a professional dream is something big, especially for the low-income residents in the Northeast, Los Angeles area. Henri R., a teen from the Glassell Park community said, “I have grown up in this area wishing that one day I can be a professional soccer player and put my name out there for my hood, but there’s no soccer fields for my soccer league to play or practice on. So the sad question is, where else am I going to work hard and try to live up to my dream?”

There might be some soccer fields in the community, but the problem is that there is no access to them. Parks and Rec requires some type of fee to play soccer on them and for those with low income, that is a huge problem. For example, at Rio de Los Angeles State Park, there are soccer fields in okay condition but require a fee to play. There is a low-income soccer league called Anahuak Youth Soccer Assn. that has been a big part for the community and has helped teens and families in so many ways to be successful. The problem is that Anahuak doesn’t have as much access as before so that is a huge impact to the teens in the community.

I have been a part of Anahuak since I was 4. Anahuak has helped the community, not only in soccer but also in volunteering in different events and programs. For example, the Water Watch Program and that’s a program where we go out to the community and install shower heads and light bulbs to conserve water and energy.

Not having access to soccer fields in the Northeast Los Angeles area for Anahuak Youth Soccer Assn. is a problem, but there can be a solution to this: Reconstruct the dirt soccer fields they have at Rio de Los Angeles State Park and make them artificial grass and to give Anahuak the access to all the fields for the young teens. Anahuak should be the main ones playing at that park due to the years that they have playing at that park and all the teen activity there is.