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The Mexican American Soccer Research Project Inland Congregations United for Change (ICUC), Club Brazil and University of Redlands students have come.

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Presentation on theme: "The Mexican American Soccer Research Project Inland Congregations United for Change (ICUC), Club Brazil and University of Redlands students have come."— Presentation transcript:


2 The Mexican American Soccer Research Project Inland Congregations United for Change (ICUC), Club Brazil and University of Redlands students have come together to: Show the importance of these existing soccer leagues in the lives of the citys young people. Make policy re commendations on how the city and school district can better meet the needs of the citys soccer teams. Identify the barriers they face in their efforts to provide positive youth development activities. Inland Congregations United for Change

3 The Mayor of San Bernardino has committed to: expand after-school programs increase youth sports programs "fund grassroots efforts to provide youth-oriented programs in low-income neighborhoods" (Operation Phoenix Program Summary). But too often city planning processes ignore existing grassroots efforts to support the citys youth, particularly in the citys Mexican American communities. And too often city leaders say they are committed to youth but dont expand funding for youth programs.

4 The Mexican American Soccer Leagues need to be recognized as valuable partners in the citys efforts to create safe and healthy environments for children and youth in San Bernardino.

5 The Mexican American soccer leagues of San Bernardino: Provide safe and supervised outlets for kids to stay out of trouble. Build the skills they need to succeed as productive members of society. Teach youth important life lessons surrounding teamwork, discipline, and leadership.

6 Methodology 8 Soccer Club and League presidents City and School Officials from the Park and Recreation Dept, School Facilities, SB Soccer Complex, and Principals from 5 schools. 6 Coaches and 1 Referee (Chivas, Club Leon, Club Milan, Club Brazil, Girls United Soccer) 16 Children & Youth 11 Parents Reviewed Literature on Youth Development and the Effectiveness of Youth Sports programs Attended 7 Soccer Games and Practices Interviewed:

7 Why Soccer Matters San Bernardinos Mexican American Soccer teams help protect youth from crime, violence and poverty that plague too many neighborhoods. They create positive healthy environments that children need to thrive as youth and young adults.

8 Mexican American Soccer Leagues Serve Thousands of Children in San Bernardino Every Week. There are at least 4 Mexican American Soccer Leagues with teams from San Bernardino: Island Premier Soccer League, Inland Empire Soccer League, Empire Soccer League and United Soccer League. Each league has many participating Soccer Clubs each of which operate several teams (from 2-8 teams ranging in age from U-6 to U-18 to adult teams) On one weekend the Premier Soccer League fielded 86 teams playing in 43 games, with an estimated 1200 children and youth playing. One typical Soccer Club, Club Leon has 6 teams with a total of approximately 84 kids who practice 2 time a week and play almost every weekend all year long.

9 Research shows that juveniles are more likely to be victims of violent crime between the hours of 3 and 9 pm. * 57% of serious juvenile crimes occur from 3 to 7 pm.* *From the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention report (1999) Father of Club Milan player voiced the feelings of many parents and coaches when he explained, They see the streets and the life it could bring, its important to get them away from that. Youth soccer programs provide alternatives to the dangers and temptations of the streets.

10 One kid explained that, after you get home from school youll be thinking about what to do…and instead of being into drugs or gangs, they play soccer. A soccer coach shared his biggest motive as a father, is to help other parents keep their kids off the streets.

11 In the city of San Bernardino: 16% of high school students are overweight 20% are at risk of becoming overweight. Parents and coaches emphasized how soccer provides youth with exercise and keeps them healthy. One mother explained, its very good for him physically, for his health. Thats what motivates me to bring him… Now he says, look Im getting thinner because hes exercising. Soccer programs protect youth from the nationwide issue of obesity.

12 Youth soccer allows children to build self- esteem, social skills and develop into healthy and productive members of society. One coach observed that soccer players, become more social, when [they] spend more time with groups, [they] have more respect for society. [One] knows better how to live together with people. A player explained that soccer, …teaches friendship. You help your teammates if they fall down. You help them get up."

13 Youth soccer programs help kids connect with the people in their community. The Club Leon U-12 coach shared that families and friends come together through soccer; "At a good game, with all our parental support, I would think we get about 20-25 spectators. Soccer brings kids together amongst local schools and neighborhoods. One coach said, Most didn't know each other before joining, but now they are all friends.

14 Soccer programs encourage youth leadership and motivation both academically and in the home. One child explained, I love to play soccer because it makes me stay focused and if I get bad grades, my father will take me out of the soccer league. Research has shown that participation in sports is associated with completing more years of education. that his coach, "teaches us never [to] give up; keep on trying, because if you keep on trying you'll get there." A player said

15 Barriers Leagues Face and Recommendations For Change

16 Field Space is Limited The Park & Recreation Department only has 3 fields available for soccer teams to use for games (Delman Heights, Nunez Park, Meadowbrook Park). Soccer teams can also sometimes practice on the outfields of the citys 36 baseball/softball fields when its not baseball season. The number of San Bernardino soccer teams has increased drastically over the last 15 years but the city has not increased the number of free fields for teams to play. As a result, most soccer teams have to practice on school fields.

17 Lack of Fields Leads to Nomadic Teams Teams often struggle to find stable fields where they can practice and play. Teams become nomadic as they move between fields where they can get permission to practice and play games. Unfortunately, children whose parents work long hours are not able to travel to these far away fields.

18 There are Not Enough Lit Fields There are only 3 lit fields that soccer teams can use at no cost (Nunez Park, Golden Valley MS and Richardson MS). During the Winter, the lack of lit fields makes it very difficult for teams to practice. Mitch Assumma (Park and Recreation Dept) can give coaches a pin number to turn these lights on at no cost if they reserve one of the 3 fields. Several teams have bought their own generators and lights. But for others, they are unable to afford this expense, causing them to cancel practices.

19 Cost of Using New Soccer Complexes Makes them Inaccessible The city has built two state-of-the-art soccer complexes (SB Soccer Complex with 17 fields including 4 lit fields) & Blast Stadium with 6 lit fields. They were developed primarily to make money for the city; not to meet the recreational needs of San Bernardino residents.

20 Many soccer clubs that serve San Bernardinos Mexican-American working-families cannot afford to practice as the SB Soccer Complex. As of 2006, 19% of Latino families live below the poverty level. Approximately 60% Latinos under the age of 18 live in poverty. 45 % of San Bernardino families (family of four) make less than $30,000 a year. *2006 U.S. Census & Kids Count Census Data 2000 The cost of using the Soccer Complex ($220 for a 2 hour practice, twice a week) is more than many of these families can afford.

21 Recommendation: Expand Number of Free Fields w/ Lights The Mayors Office and Dept. of Park & Recreation should commit to expanding the number of multi-purpose fields in the citys parks. SB Soccer Complex and Blast Stadium should open its unused fields during the week to teams from San Bernardino for free or reduced cost.

22 Process of Acquiring Soccer Fields Many coaches have complained that the process of gaining access to soccer fields is cumbersome and confusing. This simply means that some teams dont reserve fields. While, others must move locations on a regular basis.

23 City and School District Planning Processes are Not in Sync The Park and Recreation Department holds a meeting 2 times per year to organize field allocation. The School District Facilitys Office gives permission for teams to use fields for 3 months. Line staff attempt to work together, but there seems to be little desire by the school district to unify the 2 processes.

24 Is the San Bernardino School District fully obeying the California Civic Center Act? This Act mandates that school facilities and fields be open for community use when they are not being used by the school.

25 Principals School principals make the final decision whether teams can use fields. To maintain the cleanliness and safety of school grounds, they may disallow teams from using fields. But sometimes they deny access without explaining why.

26 School Districts Should Provide Clear Guidelines for Principals on the Civic Center Act. Community groups should be able to reserve fields unless the fields are in use by school teams. Normal wear-and-tear on soccer fields is not a sufficient reason to turn down a team. The presence of a CAPS after-school program should not close the fields for the whole evening. Accountability Teams/leagues should follow-up and document the reasons why they were turned down by principals to make sure they are living up to the spirit of the Civic Center Act.

27 Locked Fields Pose a Barrier The cost of acquiring the key to get into locked fields is too expensive for most soccer teams ($250).

28 Gate Key Recommendation The School Facilities The Department of School Facilities and Maintenance should work together to develop a policy that janitors open school facilities for teams that have been approved.

29 Lack of Public Restrooms Many schools lock their restrooms so that kids practicing soccer cant use them. An Under-10 soccer player explained, The problem is when you have to go number 2. [You have to] just hold it.

30 Bathrooms Schools should open bathrooms to approved soccer teams for free, or a minimal fee. Bathrooms could only be opened at the time/day when approved teams practiced in order to establish a system of accountability. Janitors could arrange their schedule so that they only cleaned field bathrooms after soccer practice is over.

31 Language Barriers Soccer field applications and meetings are in English which only serves as a barrier to Spanish-speaking residents. 74.2% of adults in San Bernardino speak Spanish at home.* *(US Census Bureau 2006)

32 Stereotypes & Lack of Trust The Park and Recreation and School Facilities department dont know or trust many of the Mexican American soccer leagues. Some staff have racial and cultural stereotypes that stand in the way of creating a healthy relationship with these leagues. A Park and Recreation employee described many Mexican American leagues as manipulating the system, trashing fields and not following policies.

33 Translation The School District and Park and Recreation Department should translate all application materials into Spanish. They should reach out to and invite Spanish- speaking teams to bilingual meetings.

34 Transportation Many working parents struggle to transport their children to soccer practices and games. Coaches and other parents often pick-up as many players as they can. One kid we met biked 1 hour to soccer practice each day. In reality I have to drive at least maybe seven miles [to games and practices]. (Victor Perez – Coach of Club Leon)

35 Keep Team Practices Close to Home School facilities and the Dept. of Park & Recreations planning processes should give priority to teams who live close to particular schools so that kids can walk to practice. They should try to create consistent assignments of fields to reduce nomadic teams.

36 National Mexican American Sports Association This Organization aims to: Help leagues form better relationships with city officials and lobby for access to space to practice and play. Provide insurance tailored to immigrant communities. Create a more systematic structure and set of rules Help connect ex pro players to volunteer as coaches with teams Hold a yearly national tournament (Sept 7 and 8, 2008). Host a yearly convention and state training institutions to train coaches and referees. Mexican American Leaders across the United States are working together with the Mexican consulate to build this organization that will help soccer leagues teams and leagues become a more unified and powerful force in the U.S. For more information about this effort in San Bernardino, contact Cecilia Miranda Mijangos (909) or

37 What are the next steps? Bring representatives of the leagues together to develop strategies to remove some of these barriers and to change city policies. Insure that all soccer clubs and leagues are included in the Park and Recreation bi-annual planning meetings. Insure that the School District follow through on commitment to translate application materials.

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