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Free Youth Soccer League To Launch For Houston’s Poor

Coach wants to bring soccer to those who can’t afford to play.



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Thousands of excited Houstonians watched the USA vs. Belgium match at sports bars throughout the city.

And enthusiasm for soccer is not just big in Houston. Nationwide, ratings for this World Cup are higher than ever before and even beat other major American sports events, like the World Series and the NBA Finals.

Some argue that this excitement has more to do with national pride than with the sport – a lot fewer people watch soccer in the four years between World Cups – there’s no denying that the popularity of soccer in the United States is on the rise.

“Every four years, we’re getting more fans. They’re understanding the game,” said Nadette Vega, who was attending a soccer watch party. “‘cause this game is about strategy, it’s about understanding. It’s not about brute force. It’s about, hey, we can learn from last year or from four years ago.”

Marcelo Galvao wants to give an outlet to that mood and is preparing to launch a new youth soccer league here in Houston – one that targets immigrants and low-income kids.

“I see that there’s a huge need among the refugee and the Hispanic population,” he said. “A lot of the kids that can’t afford to play soccer in America. And so we decided to try to come up with a program that we could provide the opportunity for people of all nations to play.”

Galvao moved to the U.S. from Brazil when he was 18. He is a professional soccer coach and consultant and has done some outreach among Houston area kids.

He said soccer is an ideal way to connect kids of different backgrounds.

“A lot of the international players or kids that we’re dealing with, in the communities that we’re dealing with, that’s the sport that they grow up and their parents and their families talk about,” he said. “A lot of them have different roots, they come from different countries, and soccer is a sport that will bring them together.”

The All Nations Soccer League is scheduled to start this September at three different Houston area locations with the goal of having 600 players in about 60 teams by the end of the season.

After that, Galvao hopes to expand the program to other cities. The league will be run by volunteers and got its start-up funding from the Stoller Foundation, an organization that supports Christian volunteer outreach.

Galvao said the goal is not to preach but to provide low-income kids with an opportunity to get together and play soccer.