Local soccer tourney keeps kids off the streets

ARLINGTON, Va. — In an effort to keep teenage boys on the straight and narrow,
organizers held their 9th annual soccer tournament on Sunday.

When the at-risk kids weren’t on the playing field, they were encouraged
to stay away from gangs and illegal drugs.

“We need to get kids involved in positive activities after school and the soccer
tournament is just the hook to bring these kids in and to learn about the
different non-profit organizations that exist in the county,” says Tito Vilchez,
coordinator of the Arlington County Gang Prevention Task Force.

Skies were cloudy and blustery winds blew, but the kids seemed eager to take the
field at Washington Lee High School to play soccer.

“It’s just a fun tournament where everybody gets to play,” says Rene Barrera, a
14-year-old freshman at Yorktown High School.

Barrera says the games bring an important message for him and his friends to
turn away pressure to fall in with the wrong crowd.

“You got to make a decision between ‘are you going to go to school daily and
work hard or go do gangs and stuff like that’,” Barrera says.

Some of the agencies showing their flags at the tournament include the Teen
Network Board, Phoenix House, Aurora House and Northern Virginia Family Service.

The afternoon of soccer could be helpful in steering teenagers from trouble.

“There’s kids that are getting into gangs and getting into drugs and this helps
them keep away from that,” says Jose Santander, a 16-year-old junior at
Wakefield High School.

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