Soccer Gives Asylum-Seeking Children A Chance To Play | Texas Public Radio

Soccer Gives Asylum-Seeking Children A Chance To Play

Jun 7, 2019

Some migrant boys and girls housed in San Antonio got the chance to do something they don’t often get to do: take a break and play.

A city councilman organized a soccer game complete with goals, nets, balls and professional players at Travis Park.

Councilman Robert Trevino said children and their families fleeing unrest in Central America are being housed and cared for by Catholic Charities of San Antonio as they seek political asylum and a more permanent place to stay in the U.S.

But he said they don’t have a chance to get out and exercise, and that’s what the soccer game is all about.

Noé, 9, plays soccer with San Antonio Councilman Robert Trevino.
Credit Dominic Anthony Walsh | Texas Public Radio

“These are kids that don’t have an opportunity to get out and just enjoy being kids and playing and you can see the smiles on their faces,” he said.

San Antonio F.C. Center midfielder Michael Lahoud played soccer with asylum-seeking children at Travis Park.
Credit Dominic Anthony Walsh | Texas Public Radio

Trevino also invited pro players from the San Antonio Football Club to join in. Center midfielder Michael Lahoud says he was just like these kids.

“I’m originally from Sierra Leone, West Africa,” he said. “You know I’m a refugee myself, so my story starts on the West Coast of Africa and when I was 6 years old I left civil war and won a lottery visa to move to the United States.”

Another player on the San Antonio F.C. squad who turned out for the game was Moses Hernandez, who may be a familiar name to some of the kids since he played two years on the Guatemala national team.

The Dallas-born Hernandez said his father migrated from Guatemala to Texas.

San Antonio F.C. player Moses Hernandez played soccer with asylum-seeking children at Travis Park.
Credit Dominic Anthony Walsh | Texas Public Radio

“Soccer brings joy and different cultures together,” he said. “You can see today everybody is just playing soccer, just having fun.”

Trevino said San Antonio is showing it is a compassionate city, and so are the 300 city workers who have volunteered their time to assist migrants with their needs through a migrant resource center set up by the city.

He said San Antonio residents can help by contacting the city to see what resources are needed or by donating to Catholic Charities.

The San Antonio Food Bank welcomes donations too, but its president and CEO Eric Cooper wants donors to contact them first to see what is needed and not just show up with food..

“We are monitoring the head counts.  We are getting the right foods in the right amount at the right time,” he said.

Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.