The football field on campus became a “futbol” field that hosted a 16-team soccer tournament on Oct. 17 to support the California Immigrant Higher Education Act (AB 540) and the campus club V.O.I.C.E.S.
“Soccer and helping people, what else can you ask for?” said Luis Martin, player of the Los Plebes team from Pasadena City College, describing his experience at the V.O.I.C.E.S. second annual soccer tournament.
The tournament is one of the various fundraisers that the club VOICES holds in order to support undocumented students, also known as AB 540 students, who are not eligible for any type of federal or state financial aid. AB 540 students,” said Omar Moreno, co-founder and vice president of V.O.I.C.E.S. “We raise money to help those students and at the end of the semester we give it in scholarships for them to pay their school expenses for next semester.”
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The tournament brought together 16 teams, including PCC, Los Angeles City College and Cal State Dominguez Hills. Each team had six players and two optional reserves on the bench.
To participate in the tournament and be able to win the $360 cash prize, teams were asked for a $70 fee that will go toward the V.O.I.C.E.S. scholarships.
“All the money that we are going to obtain today we will use it for our club’s scholarships,” said Maria Castillo, 21, co-president of V.O.I.C.E.S.
The profit total was $760. If the $760 is divided by 25 – the number of members that will receive a scholarship – that is a total of $30 dollars in each V.O.I.C.E.S. scholarship that will probably be used to pay a three-unit class.
According to Greg Perkins, the advisor of the club, AB 540 students are “in high risk in terms of their chances of reaching their educational goals” because they are typically low-income students who are not eligible for financial aid.
Several faculty and staff AB 540 supporters attended. “We have a lot of allies here at school,” said Moreno. “Thanks to those allies we are able to come out with fundraiser ideas.”
Some of these “allies” are members of the AB 540 Support Committee, which is formed by faculty and staff.
ESL credit teacher and committe member, Lin Griffith, declared that immigration reform is “desperately” needed in order for the students to achieve their educational goals.
“They represent so much talent for this country and it’s so wrong of us not to take advantage of this talent and help these students to become the doctors, dentists, accountants and everything that they want to be that add to our country,” she said.
“I’ve had many AB 540 students in my class and they have been in general very hard working and very serious about making a place for themselves in the community of the American country.”
Women’s soccer Coach Jorge Mena is one perfect example of how AB 540 students can reach their goals and can become “great citizens,” declaring that he once was in their place.
“There are kids that have everything and they take it for granted and these kids [AB 540] don’t because they struggle so much, I was one of them,” he said.
The tournament is not only a fundraiser but also “a great opportunity for AB 540 students to meet other people, to get involved in the community and to get to know there’s a lot of things that you can still do no matter your [legal] status,” said Moreno.
The 16 teams played three 20-minute games and only eight out of the 16 teams advanced to the quarter-finals. The environment of the games became more selective when only four teams made the semi-finals. FC Barca assured its pass to the finals with a goal that disqualified Real Madrid. In the other side of the field, Furia Roja celebrated their place in finals, defeating Sally’s Team 3-0.
The two best teams Furia Roja and FC Barca moved on to play in the final game. The game went into overtime with a tie of 1-1. The game culminated with the victory of FC Barca winning 2-1.
“I’ve never felt this tired before but it was all worth it,” said Leo Malekian, an FC Barca player. “It’s a really good thing that everybody is trying to help out by donating money and playing in the tournament.”