By Rahsaan Thomas
Avid soccer players long for an outside sponsor to elevate their team to the level of other sports programs in San Quentin.
“We would like to have a sponsor, but nobody at this point has taken up the reins,” said G. “JoJo” Robinson, a recreation clerk who has been trying to find a soccer sponsor for five years.
Robinson played semi-pro soccer in St. Louis for the Jamaica Internationals and the U.S. Army.
“We need somebody. We have nobody.
We will appreciate anything that moves us forward”
“We need somebody. We have nobody,” said Jose Vieyra. “We will appreciate anything that moves us forward.”
Vieyra, Robinson, and fellow inmate Jesus Lopez have been organizing soccer tournaments inside San Quentin. As many as four teams totaling 46 guys come out to play “futbol.”
“Everybody plays together – different races; it doesn’t matter,” Lopez said.
Without a sponsor, their games have been limited to playing against other inmates and no equipment has been provided except soccer goal nets. Therefore, they play without goalie gloves, shin guards, elbow pads or futbol boots.
“Playing the same inmates all the time doesn’t elevate our game,” said Juan Meza, a devoted soccer player.
“I would like us to have uniforms and equipment donated,” said Robinson.
Meanwhile, the baseball, softball, tennis, flag football, basketball, and track all have outside sponsors and donated equipment, leaving soccer players feeling left out.
“We want the same opportunities the other sport programs have,” said Meza.
“Anybody who experiences coaching a sport they love with San Quentin inmates will want to come in and coach all the time because of the warm thanks of appreciation the inmates will have,” said Don DeNevi, recreational director.
Christian Sports Ministry sponsor Don Smith agrees.
“I believe passionately that what we’re doing is good. That’s why we stick around year after year,” said Smith, who brings in basketball, softball and flag football teams.
Smith has agreed to try to recruit a soccer team to come in when the season starts again in March, but his hands are already filled, so he can’t be the soccer coach or outside organizer needed.
“We need someone to coach us, organize games with outside teams and get equipment donated,” said Robinson.
“We always practice to be ready for an opportunity to play outside teams,” said Vieyra.
Anyone who interested in coaching/sponsoring the soccer program should contact DeNevi at (415) 454-1460 ext. 6192.