For more than a year we had wanted to organize soccer games between farm workers and supporters in order to build relationships between the communities and to promote social change and a healthy life style.
The idea had never become a reality for a few reasons: many farm workers do not have the appropriate gear to play, there are no soccer fields in many of the farm worker communities, and it was a project that would take a lot of time to plan. Thankfully this summer we were able to solve these issues and make our idea a reality.
Peace Passers is an organization that collects and distributes soccer supplies to people and communities throughout the world. They recognize the importance of sports for people as individuals but also to build community and create social change. A few months ago, I contacted Sean Frye and Ian Guthrie and asked if they would be interested in providing us with soccer gear so that we could organize soccer games between farm workers and supporters. I was very excited when they agreed to do so but I almost could not believe it when I picked up their donations! They provided us with 78 soccer shoes for children and adults, 7 pairs of gloves, 42 pairs of guards and similar equipment, 38 soccer balls and 3 sets of soccer uniforms for children! Everyone in my office was thrilled!!! It was time to start planning the games!
I asked Sergio, a Deland YAYA, to help me figure out how to distribute the gear for children, and he directed me to the local little league, coordinated by the Catholic Church. We were able to provide uniforms for two of the teams, soccer balls (which they really needed for their trainings), soccer equipment and shoes! Both the parents and the children were very excited to get these donations!
After delivering these supplies, we started thinking about the adult soccer game. NFWM has partnered with the Alliance for Active Women (AMA) in Seville, Florida, to address the issues faced by farm worker women in that community. At the beginning of the summer, AMA started planning how to get the funds to get an office and pay for all the utilities and expenses associated to it. We asked them if they were interested in helping us plan a soccer game and proposed that we found sponsors to fundraiser for their office and for the work that we were doing together. They agreed.
Also for the summer we were very blessed to get two amazing interns. One of them, Antonio, helped to coordinate and plan the soccer game. Even though there were no fields available in Seville, Antonio, Ana (the president of AMA) and Sergio (Deland YAYA) started to research which fields were available in the cities close by until they finally found one that we could use in Pierson!
With Antonio’s help we were able to plan the game, find volunteer players, find sponsors for each player and raise more than $2000 to support the work of the women and NFWM. The ladies who played in the AMA team got new shoes, shin guards and soccer balls (donated by Peace Passers). The game was a success! Everyone had a great time! people were smiling, sweating and playing as good as they could for farm worker justice.
After the game, many people asked me when would be the next game. The game brought together children, YAYAs, members of the labor movement, members of other organizations, people of faith, farm workers and other members of our communities. We hope that we can plan more games this year!
We are thankful to Peace Passers, the sponsors, the players, the little league and everyone who worked hard this summer to make it an exciting and fun time for all!!!