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First Latino soccer team to win Kansas State Cup going to Regionals

Posted at 9:23 PM, Jun 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-19 22:23:51-04

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — There's just no better feeling than winning, especially when it's the championship, and especially when you've overcome so many barriers to get there. 

"Feels good, exciting. I don't know what to say," 13-year-old Francisco Contreras said. 

He's a center midfielder on Soccer Nation's 13's team. 

The boys are humble about it, but their team just won the Kansas State Cup in their age division, and are now going to Regionals in Indiana. 

They beat Sporting Blue Valley 6-0.

Soccer Nation is the first Latino team to win the cup, beating out other established programs in the state. 

Coach and founder of Soccer Nation Raul Villegas said he's seen the team transform before his eyes over the years. 

"We huddled up before the game to tell the kids, this is it, you guys gotta win this. If you win this we're going to travel to Indiana and you could see the fire in their eyes," Villegas said.

Soccer Nation is a three-year-old program. Villegas said he knew how much talent there was in Wyandotte County. 

"We've been working very hard for this and we already won State Cup and now we want to win Regionals," right midfielder David Rivera said. 

Kids like David and Francisco have been playing since they could walk. Soccer is everything to them. Their families are diehard fans. 

"It was phenomenal to see every single kid, even the subs coming in, playing their heart out and knowing their parents out there, they struggled putting those kids every single day," Villegas said. 

It'll cost $18,000 to go to Indiana, covering travel, lodging and food costs. That comes out to about $1,000 per kid.

Getting a chance to play out-of-state, let alone outside Wyandotte County, is a big deal. Many families don't have the resources to pay for competitive soccer, and they sacrifice a lot to get their kids on the field. 

"Soccer Nation thinks the kids deserve a shot, so at no point — we didn't think we're not going. We said, 'We're going to make it work,'" said Villegas. 

The boys want everyone at Regionals to know they're the best.

"The best team in Kansas and best team in USA hopefully," Francisco said. 

The team leaves June 21. 

Taqueria Mexico on Rainbow and Southwest Blvd is holding a fundraiser Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. Half of all sales will go to the team. 

The team also has a GoFundMe page.