After Lobbying for New Bronx Soccer Field, Honduran Players Can’t Use It

Yesterday we linked to El Diario’s feature on Latino soccer teams on Long Island, where the sport is much more than just a game for the growing Latino community. Today we have a story from Patrick Wall at DNAinfo on the Bronx-based New York Honduras Soccer League, whose lobbying for a synthetic-turf soccer field in Crotona Park was successful — but led to frustration when they were blocked from using the tantalizing new field during the weekend and evening hours when the league plays.

Members of the New York Honduras Soccer League play at Ferry Point Park (Photo by Patrick Wall/DNAinfo)

The New York Honduras Soccer League, which has hundreds of members, pushed for the $626,000 synthetic-turf soccer field in the park that previously only had facilities for baseball, basketball, handball and tennis.After the city agreed to install the field, which opened in 2011, it denied a permit for the Honduran league to play on it, giving preference to youth leagues instead.

Now the league meets wherever teams can find a patch of open space in the park, using gym bags, trashcans and portable posts for goals.

“In our country, they play in the dirt,” said the league’s project director, Willie Alvarez, 24.

“But they come to a better country,” said Alvarez, “and they’d like to play on a better field.”

DNAinfo reports that the soccer field was originally the idea of Xiomara Arriola, the president of the New York Honduras Soccer League, who first founded a youth soccer team, Los Santos, about 15 years ago.

Eventually, other teams cropped up to meet the rising demand of soccer-crazed Honduran immigrants, many of whom settled in The Bronx.

Nearly 18,400 Honduran immigrants live in The Bronx, which is more than twice the number in any other borough, according to the 2010 American Community Survey.

In 2009, Arriola decided to form the league to bring the various Honduran teams together, along with some clubs for players from Africa, the Caribbean and other Central American nations.

Fans of the Honduran Soccer League watching and hanging out in Ferry Point Park (Photo by Patrick Wall/DNAinfo)

Arriola continues to fight for access to the field for her Honduran players.

This year, the Honduras League applied for a permit for its adult teams to use the field for practice during the week.

They had already secured several fields for weekend games at Ferry Point Park in Throgs Neck, roughly five miles away from Crotona Park.

The Parks Department offered daytime spots on the new Crotona field to the league, which the league rejected since almost all of its players work during the day.

The department assigned all of the field’s weeknight and weekend play time to three youth leagues, which get preference in the application process, according to a Parks spokesman.

The league plans to apply again for space on the new field next year.



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