Soccer Is Not a Game for South Los Angeles Children

Soccer Is Not a Game for South Los Angeles Children

This soccer-mad L.A. Latina has attended seven World Cups. Qatar will make it eight. She’s a member of the Women’s World Cup champion U.S. team, and she’s become a leader of the team’s fan base for playing a game that isn’t considered a World Cup.

“I love soccer,” she said. “It is the game that I like. I don’t like soccer where I live.”

This is the case for dozens of South Los Angeles children from low-income Hispanic and Spanish-speaking families. This is the case for the tens of thousands of children in south Los Angeles public schools who will miss out on soccer practice because they have no access to the sport. This is the case for kids like the two girls in the photographs who are part of the U.S. Women’s World Cup team and have been playing at a nonprofit football program for local kids.

For these kids and their parents — who represent the growing number of South Los Angeles children of color who are too young to play soccer and too old to attend youth development programs — soccer could be a new identity for a game they have been told to avoid. Some even refer to soccer as a “waste of money” and “losing out on fun.”

“It’s not a sport for everyone,” said Jorge Lopez, the director of soccer at Chino Community Center, who oversees soccer programs that include soccer and football in the South Los Angeles community.

“Soccer is a game and it’s good, but it’s like music now. You have to know how to play to play it.”

For the children of South Los Angeles, there is nothing about their game that gives them hope. In fact, they’ve been taught that soccer is not a game for them.

“It’s a great sport. It’s fun, but it’s bad for you,�

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