Fortune smiles on Amigos league
Less than a month ago, Pedro Carbajal's 12-and-under soccer team had no field space and little equipment for its dozens of players, many of whom could not afford the $50 fee to participate in the league.
But on May 3, following an article in the Voice, his players' "dreams will come true," Carbajal said, when the Amigos League youth soccer team travels to Central California for a tournament.
For many of the players, it will be the first time they ever stayed in a hotel.
The April 4 Voice story caught the attention of the Mountain View Police Activities League, or PAL, which quickly decided to step in and send the team and three chaperones to the PAL Northern California tournament in the Central Valley town of Ripon. The players also will receive new uniforms for the tournament donated by PAL, whose mission is to build relationships between police and local youth through sports.
"Now they think they finally belong to a soccer league," Carbajal said. "It is now an organized team and they like that."
Many of Carbajal's players come from low-income families, and their parents work multiple jobs to get by, leaving the boys with little to do. Carbajal hopes the soccer league will keep his players away from gangs and drugs.
The tournament was just the beginning of good news for the players.
Carbajal's league, which has four teams and over 70 players ranging in age from 7 to 14, also received $400 from generous Mountain View residents and $7,000 from a fundraiser at Cooley Godward Kronish, a law firm where Carbajal works as a chef. Another $3,000 was donated as a matching grant from Guckenheimer, the catering service that employs Carbajal.
In the meantime, Carbajal has been meeting with Mountain View police Chief Scott Vermeer to discuss continued funding.
PAL received an $8,000 grant to start a soccer league, but has instead offered to sponsor the four Amigos league teams, providing players with insurance and helping Carbajal find a permanent field, according to PAL vice president Joanne Pasternack. The league is currently using fields at Rengstorff Park, which is also a gathering place of the Surenos gang.
"We are completely inspired by the passion Pedro showed for the youth who live in low-income areas," Pasternack said. "Our interests are very aligned with Pedro's."
"There is no point in starting a competing league, when Pedro was already doing that," she added.
As an affiliate of PAL, the Amigos league would become a nonprofit, meaning parents could receive a tax exemption when they pay their $50 league fees.
Carbajal said he is still thinking the offer over, and he notes how excited and how grateful he and his players are. He is also discussing continued funding with Cooley Godward Kronish, which also has offered to sponsor the league as a nonprofit.
He said he hopes to work with both organizations, and is happy for all the support for his players.
"The good news isn't over yet," he said, as he prepared to receive the law firm's donations Wednesday.
Those interested in joining the league are invited to show up at the Rengstorff Park soccer field on Tuesdays or Thursdays between 4 and 6 p.m.
To donate to the Amigos Soccer League, contact Pedro Carbajal at (650) 669-1871.
E-mail Casey Weiss at firstname.lastname@example.org