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.