Downtown Los Angeles Soccer Club — a group of mostly Latina athletes — faces cultural, economic battle in soccer

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Downtown Los Angeles Soccer Club — a group of mostly Latina athletes — faces cultural, economic battle in soccer

Girls Soccer

Downtown Los Angeles Soccer Club — a group of mostly Latina athletes — faces cultural, economic battle in soccer

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U.S. women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe has garnered a lot of attention as of late for her strong performances on the field and her strong opinions off it.

During the team’s victory speech after the World Cup, she said, “We got white girls, black girls and everything in between.”

That actually is not the case, and according to the Los Angeles Times, one club soccer team in California found it hard to relate to the U.S. Women’s National Team because of it. The U.S. Women’s National Team featured no Latina women on its roster this year.

“No, they don’t,’’ Nayelli Barahona, Downtown’s 15-year-old striker, told the LA Times. “That’s why … I like watching them and everything, but I still say my idol is Lionel Messi.”

Downton is a team that features 175 girls, most of whom are Latina. When a lot of the soccer landscape is seen as rich and white, this group is trying to go against the grain.

Club president Mick Muhlfriedel, runs the all-volunteer program out of the Liechty Middle School field in Pico-Union. Some of the girls pay $25 monthly. But most pay nothing, per the LA Times. This program is possible for these women because of the low team dues. Club soccer fees run $2,000 to $5,000 annually in many cases, but Downtown has found a way to make it work.

“We’re told, ‘It costs too much money for you to play soccer,’” Kim Surio, a former Downtown player and now an assistant coach at the club, told the LA Times. “These girls watch the World Cup and wish that could be them, but don’t think it could ever happen.”

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Downtown Los Angeles Soccer Club — a group of mostly Latina athletes — faces cultural, economic battle in soccer
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