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KCK soccer team cleans house at Regionals, has high hopes for Nationals

Posted: 5:01 PM, Jul 18, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-18 19:29:07-04

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- The Soccer Nation KC club got a hero's welcome at the mayor's office on Wednesday. 

Mayor David Alvey recognized the kids, their coaches, and their parents for their hard work. 

Soccer Nation is the first all-Latino soccer club to win the Kansas State Cup in their age group. They cleaned house at Regionals in Indiana and are now going to Nationals in Frisco, Texas. 

"They got it done. They were really hungry for it, and now that we came to the realization that we are only a club of 10 teams and being able to participate at the highest level of youth U.S. soccer, it's amazing," said Raul Villegas, owner and one of three coaches at Soccer Nation.

The club started just three years ago.

Villegas said they're a group of inner-city kids with talent. The kids have learned discipline and teamwork and now have a chance to bring home the gold. 

They're a fun group, but humble about their talents. 

"I never thought I'd be, like, far away from Kansas playing tournaments," Jeremy "Chaparro" Ortiz said. 

As the story spreads of this small soccer club that has beat out all of Kansas' established teams, the support continues to grow. 

Sprint presented a $10,000 check to the team at City Hall. 

None of the kids had ever held a check that big before. 

"I mean usually the small ones 'cause my mom pays me for like shorts and stuff, but no, not that big!" player Gio Viera said. 

Another donor is contributing $7,500. Radio stations, restaurants, business owners and friends have added to the pot. 

The donations will help with food, travel, and lodging -- Soccer Nation carrying with them the hopes of the KCK community. 

"Feels good and it's a big opportunity. Big check," player Henry Godinez said. 

Some of the boys didn't think they'd make it this far at first but said once they won the state cup they're confident they can win it all. 

"Feels like we have a family with us, supporting us and caring about us and not leaving us behind," Viera said. 

Mayor Alvey gave the team a tour of his office and some words of encouragement. 

"These kids, growing up in our neighborhoods and from good families doing good things, that's what we're proud about," Alvey said. 

Villegas said he feels like they are already champions. 

"I just want to say it feels really good that you guys accomplished so much. And no matter what language [we speak], how we look, if we work hard, everything is possible," Villegas told the team. 

Soccer Nation leaves for Texas Sunday, July 22. 

Taqueria Mexico at 3300 Rainbow Blvd is holding a fundraiser for the team on Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Half the proceeds go directly to the team. 

Soccer Nation has a GoFundMe account for Nationals expenses. A previous fundraiser  for Regionals brought in $1,500. 

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