By Marcus Henderson
The San Quentin soccer team torched the visiting Hermanos Unidos (United Brothers) 9-2 in its season opener.
After a decade, an outside soccer team returned to the Lower Yard. The last team was also called the Hermanos Unidos.
“We are the new generation,” said Marco Barrera, Hermanos’ head coach. “We want to revive this tradition and do community work. All our communities have been affected by mass incarceration. A lot of us come from low-income families, and this is our way to show support and give back.”
The Hermanos, made up of UC Berkeley students, faced both the veteran SQ Golden Eagles and the younger Earth Quakes.
The Golden Eagles played the first half and put up a whopping eight goals. They scored five in the first quarter off the sharp foot of striker Abdul-Kader Morceli and added three more in the second.
“It’s overwhelming,” said Garvin “Jo Jo” Robinson, Golden Eagles Head Coach. “To have a team come in, they could have been doing anything else than coming here.”
Earth Quaker Juan Arballo added, “This is the first time in 24 years that I have played somebody from the streets.
“We are building a bright future between the inside and outside communities. For us, it takes away the fear of society and for the guest it takes away the stigma of who we once were when they share this experience with the outside.”
Julio Martinez of the Earth Quakes expressed, “It felt like we were playing family out on the field. I love this game, and I leave all of my heart out there every time I play.”
The Hermanos put up two goals in the second, after warming up and calming their nerves.
Hermanos’ striker Jose Ayon’s smooth footwork weaved through the crowd and faked out the goalie for the score.
“These guys’ conditioning is impressive,” said Ayon. “We were cold but finally found a rhythm. We didn’t know their skill level.
“We came to represent the Black and Latino communities, to let the guys know everybody hasn’t given up on them. Even for the older guys, people will help you.”
Abel Ruizuelasco, Hermanos’ assistant coach, added “We heard the guys’ stories and you could feel their love. We came with an open mind, and this experience is humbling.”
At half time, the teams formed a circle and shared about the program and what they are willing to commit to it.
“This is a good reminder to keep pushing myself,” said Hermanos’ Gerry Franco. “Today is Mother’s Day, and I’m going back to tell her about my experience here. We do need more people of color doing this.”
The young Earth Quakes managed to get one run in the second half and hold the visitors.
“Everybody played good and showed great respect,” said Arturo Huerta, Earth Quakes Head Coach. “We will continue our training. We thank everybody for coming in.”
Sponsor and Coach Crawford concluded, “I am pleased how everything went. I think we can keep making progress and grow. Everybody enjoyed themselves, and the guys got the chance to share their stories. That is really the rewarding part. We are looking for more teams with different skill levels.”
Crawford also added that he’s looking to see what the inside teams’ needs are, like uniforms, and finding a way to get those things.
The May 8 game ended with everybody winning.
By Marcus Henderson