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Latin American involvement in U.S. soccer

This is an excerpt from Latinos in U.S. Sport by Jorge Iber, Samuel Regalado, Jose Alamillo and Arnoldo De Leon


When Paul Cuadros started a girls’ soccer team at Jordan Matthews High School, he encountered some resistance from families because it was not considered a “ladylike” activity.105 Additionally, sparse facilities, lack of transportation, and the high cost of club soccer fees placed Latina girls at a disadvantage compared to their white counterparts. According to NCAA statistics, only 3 percent of female college scholarships are awarded to Latinas. In the past few years, more such leagues have emerged across the country, creating more opportunities.106 Another inspiration for young Latinas is the Brazilian soccer star Marta Vieira da Silva, who declined offers from European clubs to play for the Los Angeles Sol of the new Women’s Professional Soccer league. Considered the best female player in world soccer, Marta received the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year award three times and helped Brazil win two Olympic silver medals. According to USA Today, “Marta has become this generation’s Mia [Hamm].”107

A final area of discussion regarding Latinos and soccer is the development of the next generation of athletes for the sport. Hugo Pérez was one of the best soccer players in the North American Soccer League, but when the association folded, he played indoor soccer until he could, hopefully, join the U.S. national team for the 1990 World Cup.108 When he was excluded from the national squad, it caused much controversy and raised the possibility that Latino soccer players were being slighted by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). Longtime coach and contributing writer for Soccer America Horacio Fonseca was incensed and decided it was time for a change. So he, along with several other Spanish-surnamed field generals, formed the Latin American Soccer Coaches Association (LASCA) in 1993. Fonseca pointed out that only a few Hispanic players were usually chosen as part of the national team despite a large untapped pool of soccer talent in this community.

As an NCAA Division II soccer coach at California State University at Northridge, Fonseca has based much of his success on recruiting Latino players from local leagues and high schools, though claiming he has still faced resistance from athletic departments and university administrators. So the purpose of LASCA became, according to Fonseca, “to call attention to the dearth of Latino players at the national level and to create a pipeline for Latino soccer players to get noticed by college coaches and professional teams.”109 The organization argued that many talented Spanish-speaking players often fell through the cracks because of inadequate counseling and a lack of financial resources that kept them from playing for elite club teams and attracting college recruiters.110 In an effort to counter this negative trend, and with the help of NSCAA and sponsors, LASCA has organized several coaching clinics to train and educate athletes about scholarship opportunities and to integrate them into broader soccer circles. LASCA has also called for Latino representation in national soccer bodies like the Hall of Fame selection committee. Another LASCA accomplishment, according to Fonseca, was in paving the way for several ethnic soccer organizations that have begun operations in various parts of the nation in recent years.111 LASCA is now part of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) and forms part of its community outreach groups. It is now known as the Latin American Soccer Coaches Committee and is one of several other “ethnic” coaches’ groups within the association.




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