The Bronx was jumping this past weekend as NYCFC joined together with the community for the first Street Soccer Block Party at P.S.49, in association with the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and the UAE Consulate of New York.
Fausto Perez was born and raised in Mott Haven, is an alum of the school and lives right across the street from the neighborhood soccer pitch lovingly referred to as “La Canchita”.
Hosting the festival was the realization of a long-held dream for Fausto as he seeks to improve the lives of those growing up in the area through the beautiful game of soccer.
This is his story…
La Canchita kept me out of the streets, kept me out of trouble. Especially in the South Bronx, that wasn’t easy. There is a lot of peer pressure, a lot of gangs, a lot of drugs, but soccer kept me alive, and it’s my outlet. It’s how I unleash my energy.
As a first generation immigrant, we have many barriers set for us, but it takes a lot of resilience, determination, and persistence to overcome our challenges. By exposing me to different cultures, different religions, soccer has really given me a sense of the meaning of life. It’s all about living peacefully with each other without any tensions which soccer definitely buffers because we are forced to work as a team.
This Street Soccer Festival makes me feel so appreciative because there’s been a lot of neglect, but we stuck to the field, we stood loyal to the field, and now look what it has become.
I’m happy that NYCFC and I were able to make this event happen and it’s the start of something big now. I really feel accomplished, I feel grateful, and there’s more to come. There’s so much more.
I hope to either start my own nonprofit and focus on street soccer talent within the Bronx, and then expand to other boroughs, but probably start a nonprofit and just focus on the kids in the community because there’s so much potential that could be achieved if we use our resources accordingly, and I feel like with my story and La Canchita we could definitely make it happen.
The kids here, they can definitely move that ball. For us to imagine the potential this pitch could help bring out, the Brazilians have something called Ginga. It’s like futsal, and I believe you get that extra flair from the street, and that’s why they have so much success with their national team. I feel like we could definitely incorporate that into the USA National team because we could develop a system where we encourage more street soccer and develop this flair.
The possibilities are endless. You guys know Falcao? He grew up playing in the streets. We could have the next 11-year old Falcao here and we don’t even know it.
It’s incredible, but now we have a platform where we could give them that platform to be successful.
For more on Saturday's Street Soccer Festival in the Bronx, view the Photo Story here.