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Soccer from the ground up

Started by a frustrated dad, Oak View Youth Soccer League has brought activity and pride to community.

December 12, 2012|By Andrew Shortall
  • Marcos Ramos, 4, Ethan Avila, 5, center, and Leonardo Aguillar, 5, back, participants in the Oak View Youth Soccer League, run through drills on Friday.
Marcos Ramos, 4, Ethan Avila, 5, center, and Leonardo… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

Staring at a line of trophies that would be awarded to those competing in the Oak View Youth Soccer League Finals on Sunday, Jose Luis Rodriguez couldn't help but think about how far the league has come.

The league founder and 17-year resident of Huntington Beach's Oak View community has seen the organization grow from the four teams it started out with in its inaugural 2003 season to about 30 teams and 700 boys and girls a year.

An estimated 700 people came out to the Oak View Elementary School field Sunday to watch the league's five championship games for players 6-and-under to 14-and-under.

"I can't believe the soccer league is what it is today," Jose said in Spanish with his son, Oscar Rodriguez, interpreting, "but I worked constantly with parents to bring their kids to play soccer, and that's how it began growing."

Oak View is a 92% Latino neighborhood bordered by Warner and Slater avenues, Nichols Lane and Beach Boulevard that's home to 10,000 residents, 32% of them below the poverty line, according to data compiled by Oak View Renewal Partnership, a nonprofit organization founded in 2005 to improve living conditions in the community.

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Oak View's soccer league is one of six or seven programs with which Oak View Renewal works. It was born out Jose's desire to have Oscar and his neighborhood friends have a nearby place to play organized soccer on the weekends.

When a 6-year-old Oscar first took up soccer, Jose would drive him and his friends to Santa Ana to play in a soccer league. With Huntington Beach and other nearby youth soccer leagues running $200 to $600 each season — not including gas expenses — many Oak View residents couldn't afford to put their children in organized soccer.

That's until Jose brought soccer to Oak View's backyard at Oak View Elementary.

It costs $5 to enroll in each of the two annual Oak View Youth Soccer League seasons. They run from July to December and January to June.

It took some work to make the league a reality. Oak View Elementary's field was being used for adult recreation leagues nine years ago, and with the help of Oak View Renewal Partnership, Jose got in touch with the city and Ocean View School District to get the necessary paperwork to get permits to use the field.

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