A soccer team, named the International Girls, made up of girls who are mostly Blair ESOL students, recently finished playing in the Montgomery Soccer Incorporated (MSI), one of the biggest soccer leagues in Montgomery County. They finished the season in second place.
For ESOL students it's hard to get involved in extracurricular activities for different reasons and for most this was the first time that had an activity like this in the United States. Some of the International Girls like seniors Leslie Rendon and Issela Garcia were not successful when they tried to join the school team. Issela was too old for the school team. "I couldn't enter a team at Blair because of my age," she said. For Leslie the language was the problem. She joined the Blair soccer team but felt uncomfortable because she did not know English well. "I stopped going to the practices because I felt strange. I was the only ESOL student," Leslie said. "I wanted to go to the practices but I didn't understand [English]."
The group was organized by Mr. John Alcoba, a former instructional assistant of Montgomery Blair. According to Mr. Alcoba, it's more usual to have boys in soccer leagues, but the girls were more enthusiastic about the idea. "When I did the indoor soccer championship last year, I asked the boys if they wanted to enter the league, but it didn't work," Mr. Alcoba said. "The girls asked me if I wanted to do it with them and we did it."
For Mr. Alcoba it's a challenge to manage all the girls. "For me the 19 girls are like one person. I try to understand them," he said "it's very different to manage boys and girls; I have to be careful about how I talk to them, because they are more sensitive."
Mr. Alcoba likes to organize sport activities for young people. "This activity is not only a game. It also teaches them to work as a team and cooperate with each other," he added.
The girls like this activity for different reasons. "It's healthy for my body," said Galdys A. a member of the team. "It keeps me in good shape," another player added. Some were new at soccer. "I started to play soccer here [Blair] 6 months ago," said senior Andressa Silva
For the girls what makes their team special is that they are all from different countries and "We are the only Latinas in the league," said Leslie Rendon.
For Leslie being in 2nd place is not bad because they did their best, "I feel good because we tried hard and we didn't give up so easily."
It also taught the girls to fight for their goals, "I learned that when you want something, you have to try hard to get it and if you don't at least you know that you did your best. I think this was an achievement for each one of us," Leslie said.