Young Latino soccer players kick away stereotypes on way to their goal

By Pam Burrell
LatinaLista

Woodburn, Oregon’s population is 51 percent Hispanic and 49 percent Anglo. It has the highest concentration of taquerias in the state and on Saturday afternoons the parks are crowded with Hispanic men’s soccer league games which culminate every August with an intense men’s league tournament called Fiesta Mexicana.

BoysFromLittleMexico-Final.jpgIn The Boys from Little Mexico: A Season Chasing the American Dream, journalist Steve Wilson takes us with him as he tags along with the Woodburn High Bulldogs’ all Hispanic soccer team during their season of 2005.

I found the author’s writing electric when he gave a play-by-play analysis of the team’s soccer games. I felt as if I was right there in the stands with the boys’ families and friends experiencing triumph when they won and frustration when they lost.

But, this story is about much more than winning or losing on the soccer field.

It s about a team of young Latinos who consistently work and strive to succeed on and off the field despite the many obstacles they face as teenage Hispanic males in the United States.

Its true strength comes from Wilson’s ability to get the boys to talk about their hopes and their dreams, the past they left behind in their native country of Mexico, and their desire for a successful future whether as a professional soccer player and/or as the first person in their family to graduate from college.

Wilson tells us that, “”Seen on the street, Woodburn’s players are more likely to be identified as gangbangers, thieves, or slick Lotharios than athletes, loving sons, or good students.”

However, throughout this book the actions and the words of these good sons and brothers consistently dispel the stereotypical images of young Hispanic teenagers, and for that alone this is a must-read and a worthy title to be a part of anyone’s library.
Pam Burrell is a reference librarian in Laredo, Texas and is a member of the Review ‘N Receive program.

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