Show me a sport that is more universal than soccer. It is a global sport that has transcended nationalities, language, religion, politics, and cultures.
It has become a common foundational sport for children (and adults) and teaches them equality, sportsmanship, courage, respect, teamwork, and thanks to its minimal barriers to entry, it means everyone can join, including you.
At Mountain Recreation we firmly believe in these values and are fortunate to see them manifested in youth and adults every day, through our own programs and many others hosted at our facilities. Our indoor and outdoor spaces provide organizations like La Liga a safe space to host programs that build community and provide recreational outlets for our hard-working community.
La Liga, or The League, is a predominately Hispanic men’s soccer league based out of Edwards with over 22 years in the making and a significant history of community impact. Founded with only a handful of teams, it aims to connect communities through competitive soccer not only with teams across Eagle County, but has also from Glenwood Springs, Rifle, Craig, Leadville, Silverthorne, and more. Every year they duel for the crown to become “Campeones de la Liga.” (League Champions)
Edgar Luevanos, La Liga’s current president and the Operations Supervisor for Alpine Bank, has been with the league since 2007. The following season, the league reached its peak with over twenty teams in one season – that’s over 300 players, not including coaches, refs, or their families cheering them on. This is something seriously worth celebrating.
The league welcomes anyone 14 years and older and has seen players from many different nationalities and all walks of life. It has broken down cultural barriers, reduced social isolation, even helped develop players resulting in full-ride scholarships to major universities, but most importantly it has created a tightly woven and passionate community.
“Here, spirit is made. When you are playing as a team, you connect with one another, because if you have something in common (soccer), any differences you may have are left aside. We see each other as people, as friends, and as friends that love soccer. No matter where you are from, we all come together and most importantly we transmit this to our children,” says Edgar.
Since its inception La Liga, which began hosting games in Avon and Eagle-Vail, moved in 2008 to Mountain Recreation’s Freedom Park to host their outdoor summer league and their indoor league at the Edwards Field House during the winter months. Some of its original teams including Aztecas, Chalchis, Honduras, and Los Motos remain as they welcome new teams every season. La Liga currently has 16 teams signed up this upcoming season and offers a new “Masters” league exclusively for men 30 years and older.
Annually, participants may include Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain high school students, seasonal employees, long-time locals, as well as old, OLD-timers like Kadafi who (still plays for) and sponsors Aztecas, he has been with the league since the beginning of time. I say this jokingly, as I was also supporting the league at 8 years old, as my father, uncles, and family friends were all in the Aztecas team back in the day.
In La Liga you will find familiar faces as many players volunteer in different organizations across the valley. Our friend Edgar volunteers with Eagle County Crime Stoppers and Erik sits on several boards including: Guardian Scholars, The Cycle Effect, & the Eagle River Scholarship Fund.
The latest? Last year, La Liga welcomed the Eagle County Women’s League to their non-profit organization to become the Women’s La Liga and a Mountain Rec Community Partnership Grant recipient – Learn More. This league is open to individual registration (16 yrs+) and has started to create support groups within their teams, much like Mountain Rec’s Women’s Hockey League.
La Liga continues this summer with their outdoor league and welcomes constructive feedback and support from the community to help manage the league, develop competitive soccer in the valley, and unite our communities.
How’s that for impact? While my personal passion will always be deep rooted in soccer, I hope this story inspires you to not only get back out there (or keep playing!), but to also take a second to step back, realize, and appreciate how powerful and significant sports are to our families, friends, community, and ourselves.
Eddie Campos is the Content Marketing Coordinator at Mountain Recreation. Contact Eddie at ECampos@MountainRec.org