ROANOKE, Va. – Every Sunday when you pass by River’s Edge Park, you may hear an energetic crowd of soccer fans.
A weekend soccer tournament was created to not only promote health but to bring Latino families in Roanoke together.
You can hear the cheers of Latino families from miles away as they huddle up on the bleachers every Sunday to support their loved ones playing soccer.
Nearly 250 people are signed up to play in la Liga Union Latina De Futbol De Roanoke.
It’s a tradition that has been happening since 2015, according to Luis Diaz, the president of the league.
“It’s a recreation, but it’s a passion towards this sport,” Diaz said. “Most of us here are passionate. The tradition that we have…because of the space, motivates us to participate in those activities.”
Cisco Ramos, a coach, said this gives teenage boys an outlet to stay out of trouble and an opportunity to maintain their health.
“That way, we can take the kids out from doing bad stuff,” Ramos said. “[We can take them] out of the drugs, out of the gangs, all kinds of stuff. Any kind of activity is really good because it keeps the family all together and everyone helped.”
But the league also includes adult players like Aaron Bautista, who said the weekly soccer tournament gives him a sense of comfort.
“It feels like a family because you know another person from another country,” he said. “It’s the same language, so we feel like a family.”
Jose Garcia records all the games and posts them on Facebook so families can enjoy them around the world.
“We always record each video because there are many families from different countries like Honduras, families from Spain who have their children playing here,” Garcia said. “They also have their children here from El Salvador, Mexico, everywhere. So enjoy. Since they can’t be present here, they can see the games on social media.”