Soccer players show their valor

May 30, 2009 3:42:00 PM PDT
There was a huge soccer tournament today on Philadelphia's Main Line and believe it or not, the real goal isn't walking away with a trophy.The fields at YSC, the Youth Soccer Center in Wayne, were teaming with young soccer players today. 130, from ages 7 and a half to 18 years, took part in the annual Valor Cup competition.

It was sponsored by the Chester County Intermediate Unit Migrant Education Program and the county Boy Scouts.

"We look for sportsmanship, we look for friendship, and we try to bring the kids together in a day of soccer and fun," Co-Chairman of the Valor Cup Dean Beer said.

Participants have a lot it common, but most significant is that all are boys scouts or cub scouts and all are Latino.

Martin Rodriguez is with the Chester County Boy Scouts. He says because soccer is so popular in Latin America, it makes sense to use it as a tool to attract Latino boys to get involved in scouting. He calls it, simply, a soccer and scouting program.

"The majority of the kids we have, we get a lot of feedback from the district, from the school system, that our program is actually keeping the kids in line in school and they're showing improvement in their grades," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez says some of the young men may be at high risk for linking up with the wrong crowd, even gangs, and getting them to become scouts helps build character and, hopefully they'll embrace the right crowd and make better choices.

"I think we learn about respect and how to treat others," scout Nathan Rojas said.

Organizers of the Valor Cup say it doesn't really matter who wins the competition, what's important are the values learned in scouting, values they say can enrich, if not change lives.

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