What to Know
- The program offers sports leagues and fitness programs to girls ages 5 to 18. The soccer league is open to high schoolers ages 15 to18.
- The next season begins in September and costs $10, but space is limited.
- For more details on the programs, click here.
The city of Los Angeles offers a soccer-focused sports program dedicated to young girls.
This program is part of “Girls Play LA” (GPLA), which not only teaches them soccer skills but also develops their personal skills, such as leadership.
“I think of myself as a leader when I can support all my teammates and we can all learn and improve together,” said one of the participants.
At the Soccer Leadership Academy they also learn camaraderie, a basic element in sports and in other aspects of their lives.
“We give them this space so they can see themselves and grow in the sport, on the field and off the field as well,” said Lizka Mendoza, director of GPLA.
Some of these players have been in the Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation’s program for years, which admits high school students ages 15 to 18.
“This program changed my life in so many ways, I met a lot of friends, a lot of professionals,” said Monique Cerriteno, one of the participants in the program.
The Angel City FC women’s soccer club joined the mission and is now part of this initiative.
“It’s something very important for us because the issue is really about access to sports,” emphasized Katherine Davila, director of community and marketing at Angel City FC.
“[Because] we already know that everyone in our neighborhood doesn’t have equal access to sports.”
Though the leadership academy is intended for the young women, many of the mothers see the opportunity as a dream come true that they themselves could not achieve in their home countries.
“When I was young, I lived in a community where we all used to get together as kids to play soccer, and now I see this beautiful field and I like it because my daughter is here,” says Emma Cifuentes, a mother of a participant in the program.
A youth girls soccer team from Downey, Calif., is in New Zealand to play a couple matches and cheer on the U.S. women’s national team in New Zealand and Australia.
They are young athletes who are clear that on and off the field, no desire is impossible.
“Angel City has motivated me to become a person who will be able to be something more, like an immigration lawyer and continue playing soccer,” said Monique Cerriteno, one of the participants of Girls Play LA.
The new training season begins in September. The sports leadership program only costs $10, but space is limited.
For more details on the programs, click here.
For a full list of programs offered by the Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation, click here.
This story first appeared on NBCLA’s sister station, Telemundo 52. Haz clic aquí para leer esta historia en español.