I was Assistant Referee for an AYSO Soccer match yesterday. The team on my side of the pitch was “Watts United” and they were playing against the “West Adams Wolfpack.” Oh my!
Those area names will mean something to Los Angelenos. Perhaps, for outsiders, only “Watts Towers” and “Watts Riots.”
As I ran up and down the field, I listened to the coaches yelling out to their players. I got “frente,” “controla” and a few other words. I didn’t think much about it until afterwards. It was obviously all positive, and here in the AYSO that is all we ask.
But think about it. In Los Angeles, a team full of 13 year old girls were being coached in Spanish, and…nobody noticed. What a wonderful thing to be so normal and everyday.
Is it the Spirit of AYSO? The tolerant attitude of Soccer? Is it Southern California and the reality of diversity? I think it’s all of those things that suddenly impressed me. I live in one of the most tolerant areas of a (seemingly) intolerant Country. I love a game that has only entered the American consciousness by forcing suburban mothers to drive their kids to it every week. The kids…they live in diversity and don’t know anything else.
See those kids above from North Torrance? They (hopefully) don’t know too much about hate and racism. It’s sad that they will have to learn some day while growing up in this America.
For my part, I hope that a few hours on a soccer field, in English or Spanish, will give them some joy and an attitude of inclusiveness they can carry on into their adult lives.