Another Kind of Redemption Song - Embracing Differences through Soccer

Redemption Song - Spike Lee

In light of the current state of affairs and in honor of #BlackHistoryMonth, I want to share a story that, in many ways, is representative of our mission and vision at My Yute Soccer.

"The first historically black college to win an NCAA title should’ve been the 1971 Howard University soccer team." That's how the introduction to this documentary, "Redemption Song" begins. But, it's not necessarily the winning and losing of a team that is most palpable. Rather, it is the filmmaker's ability to peel back the layers–where a myriad of a cultural differences lie within the social construct of race. And, when mixed with dreams and hope, those differences, more often than not, foster harmony, paving the way for success. As former Howard student Rock Newman says in the film, “This wasn’t just about a soccer championship. This was black excellence.”

Adversity and education go hand in hand for many immigrants who aspire to build vibrant, successful, and prideful lives in the United States. The men who played on the NCAA Division 1 Howard University 1971-1974 soccer teams came from many different countries to pursue a high quality university education. At a time when soccer was not a very popular sport in the U.S., they were also able to share their passion for the beautiful game with each other and the wider NCAA community. I am inspired by this film. It is a reminder of why and how I came to be Co-Founder and Board Member of My Yute Soccer (MYS).

MYS is on a mission to provide access to a diverse socio-economic and cultural environment through the sport of soccer. Our coaches represent eight different countries and our campers come from anywhere between eleven and eighteen different zip codes throughout the East Bay. Reflected in MYS is all the wonderful richness of languages, foods, accents, humor, and world perspectives that are intertwined with the competition and styles of play that filled my childhood. That sense of abundance propels our initiatives and binds us together as we envision communities embracing differences through soccer.