ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Soccer, or football as it is known outside the U.S., is said to have started over 3,000 years ago.
The Aztecs played a version of the game in northern Mexico.
Today, a bilingual soccer league is giving thousands of Rockford athletes the chance to play the sport they love, and their goals are much bigger than what’s played on the field.
Jose and Victoria Zamora run the International Soccer League, which they started in 1999.
“I think it’s keeping me young. I tell my husband, I say, ‘I love watching the little kids play.’ I mean, and then we see a lot of these kids who were playing back 25 years ago are now back with their own kids playing and our coaches and they played with our kids back in the day,” she said.
Monce Vazquez and her son play in the league, which takes the field at Sportscore Two every Saturday.
“Since we are, you know, in the area, there’s really no other place other than like a club. But I’m we’re not really interested in club yet. So this is pretty much where he’s grown and it’s given him the opportunity to grow and go outside the box,” Vazquez said.
The Zamora’s say they’ve met many people over the years whom they now consider family, and credit the countless connections created with the league.
The couple say they take a lot of price in being able to teach children that there are lessons that can be learned on the field, but the goal in life is what they can do away from it.
“My husband and I are really trying to focus on these kids or at least [trying] to guide them a little bit. We would like for a lot of our Hispanic children to go to college. We know it’s difficult. It’s a struggle for everybody,” Zamora said.
Alberto Martinz and his son play in the league, and he said “I’m always going to be thankful for Jose and Vicky that they still got this going on because like I said, not just speaking for my kid, but for other many other kids that they are allowing to come in on Saturdays and distract themselves from everything.”