By Eddie Herena
On a late October morning, 20 young men from the surrounding Bay Area dressed in black T-shirts and black shorts, marched down into a prison for a soccer match that had been planned for months.
Stepping onto San Quentin’s Field of Dreams was a new experience for all but one member of the student organization, Hermanos Unidos (United Brothers), located on UC Berkeley’s campus.
Nevertheless, Daniel Moreno, Hermanos Community Chair, was hoping to redeem his team from a defeat they suffered in early May.
“We trained for this game. “The last time we got roasted,” said Moreno. A thrashing similar to the loss Germany handed to Brazil in the 2014 World Cup semi-final match, 7-0. In May, Moreno’s team was defeated by a nameless San Quentin soccer team, 9-2. The Hermanos were on a quest for victory.
In the 10th minute striker Lionel Hernandez of San Quentin pushed pass two defenders and blasted the ball into the upper left corner of the net beyond the reach of the goalkeeper.
It was one-nil.
The Hermanos struck back five minutes later. Striker Sergio Gonzales forced the ball through the defense for the equalizer.
The match was 1-1 in what seemed like the beginning of a high scoring match. However, the match remained even for the remainder of the first half.
If their defense had held up, it looked like Moreno and the Hermanos could be in stride to accomplish what they set out for: a victory. All they needed was a little offense.
But in the second half of the game, it got a little ugly for the brothers from Berkeley. The home team was able to spread the Hermanos’ defense with more touch-pass-plays — a strategy the home team used to get the first goal. The strategy got away from them until 10 minutes into the second half.
The results were game-changing as the brothers from San Quentin scored repeatedly. The second San Quentin goal came from Don “Jihad” Spence’s header in minute 55. He scored off a corner-kick assist from teammate Tare “Cancun” Beltranchuc. That goal was followed three minutes later by Jose Melendez, who scored on a Jesus “Morelia” Lopez pass from the midfield. The final San Quentin goal came from Oscar “Flaco” Aguilar. Aguilar scored off a ball that bounced off his chest, to his right foot that he sent to the back of the net, putting the match out of reach for the Hermanos. However, the Hermanos scored one more goal off the leg of Ignacio “Nacho” Franco in the final and 90th minute, ending the game at 4-2 for San Quentin.
In spite of their loss, the Hermanos Unidos student organization said they left winners.
“A lot of us come from low-income families and are affected by mass incarceration. He added that coming into the institution is a way of showing their support and doing work to better our community.
The Hermanos Unidos organization originated at UC Berkeley in 1989 as a means for Latino students to confide in each other on campus grounds — to “create a family away from home,” explained Moreno.
Hermanos Unidos are now located in 14 other universities through out California and are even reaching out to local high school students, encouraging the value of education. The organization is about empowering the next generation through education in an effort to promote academic excellence, social networking and community service, according to Moreno.
There are way too many Latino men and women incarcerated, compared to those enrolled in colleges and universities, says Moreno. “Our purpose is not to forget where we come from,” he added, referring to why they came inside the prison.