CUFC One7 soccer team competes in two national tournaments
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Tuesday, Jul. 29, 2014

CUFC One7 soccer team competes in two national tournaments

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- COURTESY OF JEOVANNI ORDAZ
The members of the Charlotte United Futbol Club’s One7 Under-14 boys’ soccer team pose with the Champions Cup trophy during the U.S. Club Soccer National Premier Leagues Finals tournament in Greensboro. Team members are: front row, from left, Jarvin Ramirez, Brandon Hernandez, Omer Boush, Edwin Lopez, Andres Ramirez, Aidan Moore, Erick Ortiz, Heber Castro; back row, from left, assistant coach Tresor Mbuyu, Edison Gobah, Adrian Lopez, Marcos Perez, Toby McGovern, David Mbuyu, Esmelyn Flores, Andrew Miller, Jorge Espinoza and Oswaldo Ramos.

The players on the Charlotte United Futbol Club One7 under-14 boys’ soccer team have put in a lot of hard work over the 2013-14 club soccer season.

That work led to One7 making the field for two major national-level tournaments earlier this month: the National Premier Leagues Finals and the National Cup XIII Finals, both at the Bryan Park Soccer Complex in Greensboro.

One7 got a late invitation to replace a West Coast qualifier in the NPL Finals on July 10-14. The team won its round-robin bracket and earned a semifinal berth in the U14 Boys division.

That led to tournament organizer U.S. Club Soccer giving One7 a wild-card berth to the National Cup XIII Finals on July 18-21, putting it in the U14 Boys Premier Group. One7 finished 1-1-1 in group play.

“We were privileged to be invited out of nowhere,” One7 U14 head coach Jeovanni Ordaz said. “It was a real honor for us to be invited to the NPL (Finals), and then make it to the National Cup.

“When the kids learned about it, they were shocked but they weren’t afraid. They were really optimistic about it, and they were ready to play.”

The One7 U14 team – which plays under Charlotte United Futbol Club, one of the region’s biggest club-level soccer programs – is one of seven fielded by the One7 Academy, a youth educational ministry based in east Charlotte.

According to the group’s website, www.one7.org, One7’s soccer program gives youths from low-income neighborhoods a chance to compete at the upper levels of youth club soccer. The funding comes from public and corporate donations.

The One7 teams also have a diverse lineup, something done by design, according to organization president and founder, David Garrett. The U14 boys’ team has players from nine different countries: the Congo, Ghana, Liberia, Vietnam, Mexico, Honduras, Iraq, Sudan and the U.S.

“They’re all refugee kids, immigrant kids,” Garrett said. “There’s a lot of different cultures represented. They’re all from inner-city communities, and some from a really bad area of town. But they’ve all overcome adversity.”

In some ways, that mix of cultures and living in east Charlotte has helped One7 become a better team, Ordaz said.

“We’re not like some of those other teams that can hand-pick the best players from the city,” he said. “That’s what’s different about us: we develop the kids.

“A lot of these kids grew up playing ‘street soccer,’ where they developed their skills. It adds a little bit of flavor to our team, because everybody loves the game.”

Bill Kiser is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Bill? Email him at bkisercltobs@gmail.com.

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