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  1. #1

    Los Peladitos. What a great club

    0 Not allowed!
    As I was visiting New York City I called Gareth Glover to see if I could anything for the REMF. Here's what happened...

    On the Saturday I set off with a bag containing Los Peladitos documents and a new uhlsport football. Unfortunately, a bottle of water leaked and covered everything. After successfully drying out the letters over a gas flame back at the hotel it was the bag's turn. I was distracted by a friend chatting and managed to set fire to the bloody thing! I had no contact details for the team but knew they trained on Saturday or Sunday morning and the coach's name was 'Julio'.

    I eventually arrived at Flushing Meadow Park around 1pm, fully expecting to be out of luck. I spotted a bloke wearing a poncho with 'Ecuador', in huge letters, emblazoned across the back. He'd never heard of Los Peladitos so I set off to search round the park. I was getting a bit downhearted after spotting a couple of teams and then, as I was leaving the park, I noticed a load of shirts in the distance with big circles across the chest. It was Los Peladitos under 15s warming up!

    I met Julio and we chatted while his team took on the Argentine Soccer Club in a friendly. These boys sure can play. Despite an absolutely atrocious pitch, with the only grass on the flanks, sandy gravel down the centre, and tree bark covered penalty areas they strolled into a 3-0 lead penning their fellow South Americans in their own half for the entire first period. My new friend asked if I wanted to see the kids play. As it was gone 1 I assumed I'd missed all the young 'uns. We drove to his hardware store in downtown Queens, met his son, and then walked a couple of hundred yards to the Louis Armstrong Recreation Center.

    As I passed Julio's two daughters on the way in I could hear a fair bit of shouting and screaming. The raucous atmosphere was generated by the 200 or so Mums, Dads and kids parked on the 20 rows of wooden terracing. They were watching the Big Apple Youth Soccer League.

    A table straddled the half way line and was manned by a portly chap and two coaches. A live commentary over the loud speakers certainly generated some noise, as did the intermittent raffle draws throughout the match! The portly chap was in fact the league's president, Luis. He explained to me just how important the REMF was and what a difference it had made to his impoverished community.

    The kids speak Spanish when they play football because, as Julio pointed out, it's important that they know and understand their roots. They are taught English at school so will grow up with two languages, a big advantage when the youngsters eventually go out to work.

    After the obligatory photos I settled down to watch the game from the LPFC bench. In the dying seconds, after being 4-2 down, they equalised to send the crowd crazy. Along with the entire team, coaches, and half the crowd Julio's wife invaded the pitch to dance with joy! It was great to see little kids really enjoying themselves in a safe and fiercely community-orientated environment.

    To everyone who has helped to raise funds for the Robert Eaton Memorial Fund, you should be very proud of yourselves. This is only just the beginning…

    Pictures to follow


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