10 Years Strong (2003–2013)
by Julio “SOMOS ONE” Magaña-Saludado
Ten years ago, a bunch of bay area community organizers and educators who once played or were interested in fútbol mundial (aka the “beautiful game” aka “soccer”) decided to create a space where anti-sexist, anti-imperialist, liberation-minded lovers of the sport could go to relearn the game, have fun and work off the weight they gained while organizing 60 hours/wk. The space was initially created by a group of leftist mostly bio-women, trannies, and bio-men radicals who also sought refuge from the win-at-any-cost type of play that often alienates less experienced athletes, and in particular women. This type of play, we argued, is symptomatic of imperialist societies that sacrifice the best interests of all for the benefit of few. Some of the early organizer/futbolistas’ names i remember were Maria Poblet, Reem Assil, Maddy Weiss, Jason Negron, Melissa Reyes, Vanessa Moses, Genevieve Gonzalez, Cindy Weisner, Harmony Goldberg, Mariana Viturro, Steve Williams, Mei-Li Williams, Michelle Mascarenhas, Mahk, Monalisa Treviño, Pele Treviño, Josh Warren White, Andy Terranova, Adam Gold, Claire Tran, Ching-in Chen, Amal Mongia, Birginder, Rishi, Marisol, Charles Houston, Atley Chock, Fam Saechao (Original head-LWFC soccer Mom), Emmanuel Ortiz, Jane Lee, myself, and soooo many more. If you look up some of these people you will also see many of them helped resurrect the third world Liberation Front (twLF) in 1999 to successfully defend and strengthen Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley and many went on to help form some of the most effective community-need focused (power-challenging) organizations the country still has to offer. It is not surprising then that this cultural legacy lives on in the Bay, LA, DC, Indiana and so many other places where leftists seek refuge and power in graceful numbers. Still, I doubt anyone in 2003 believed that we would still be here today in 2013 in Los Angeles celebrating 10 years of our comunidad! Big shout outs to the LA Futbolista organizers of this, the 4th annual Copa Comunidad.
The story of the name, birth of the jersey and formal league play came in response to the Republicrats convening and the 99% organizing the People’s conventions. The story goes something like this-In preparation for one of the national convention protests in 2003, some co-organizers chilling around a copy machine announced that there is a weekly space where Communist Futbolistas played the game and invited a co-worker to play. As fate would have it, that person identified them self as an “Anarchist” and defiantly rebuffed “Shoot, i bet you Anarchists would woop ass on Communists”. Little did they know that herstory was being made as this paved the way for a 3 game tournament between the “Communist”, newly named “Left Wing Futbol Club” and the Anarchist “Kronstadt Futbol Club” named after the leftist Anarchist rebellion that fought against communist Russia. This contest led to the naming of LWFC, the design of the first jersey (a fist holding up a flag with a red flag on it) and afterwards the entry of LWFC members into the Sports 4 Good League. Needless to say, many of the members of Left Wing were/are not adamant Communists per se, and many Kronstadt Members immediately resumed practice with LWFC once the competition ended.
Originally, young organizer families brought their children to learn with us and some organizers even brought older rank-and-file members of their unions who also found it a safe place where they could still enjoy the game. The vibe was inclusive and attracted countless people with no experience at all but who were excited by the prospect of learning to play a sport that they grew up around but were NOT invited to play. Those of us with experience receiving formal training even met outside the Sunday practices to brainstorm ways to develop players’ understanding of basic vocabulary, positions, techniques and fielding strategies. This style of active counter-oppressive futbol was naturally dubbed “Communistic”. While that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, It should be noted though that many LW Futbolistas’ students might argue that the style of competition they learn from their Futbolista teachers/coaches is simply put “more fun”. They learn to control, pass, coach each other and work together with adult allies to develop futbol and advocacy skills.
THIS Cesar E. Chavez Day 2013, Students of LWFC ‘s Dania Cabello, (Toai Dao and myself) broke ground on a $100,000 US Soccer Federation state of the art soccer field (aka “pitch” or “campo”) for our East Oakland public High School, Life Academy of Health and Bioscience. When the Oakland Unified School District tried to revoke “their” money from the project, students in Dania’s Futbolista 4 Life (F4L) club organized and spoke in City Hall to defend their funding and secure this field for East Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood residents!
The presence of artists, cultural warriors, and musicologists from LWFC’s onset was also undeniable and celebrated in a number of multimedia Left Wing talent shows. The “team” was totally organic but instantly popular and has even attracted some Bay Area notables to come try out the beautiful game, commie style. I remember when Steve (aka Zumbi from Zion I) came to play, do DAT (The Attik) came through, Big Dan (BRWN BFLO), DJ Phatty (Native Guns), Aya de Leon, Matt Price (E40, Big Dan), DJ Treat U Nice, and so many more artists came out to experience a different type of competition. This spirit was also celebrated in many of the basement functions that happened at the Dover house “Casa de Futbol” and extended into the Church of Poetry Speakeasy functions and later manifested in La Pelanga- funky radical international dance parties curated by an incredible crate-digging DJ crew of futbolistas. It is an incredible honor that we can now add Las Cafeteras to these impressive ranks of Artist Organizers and Futbolista Ambassadors!
The fact that most of our teammates were organizers also helped inform and rally the public around other issues by reclaiming other social formats. The “Leftist Lounge” was created by Left Wing members to help radicals network while they partied. Vkdr Chavez and Sita Bhaumik’s sunday “family dinners” are another example of this LWFC effort to build radical alternatives to classic “amerikaana” traditions.
The herstory is dope, the legacy is alive, the game is still beautiful cause the score is still 2-2. On this 10th anniversary of this radical culture, I personally want to thank everyone who has done anything to make sure that we stay true to our vision as we share it with the world.
Futbolistas Viven Las Luchas Siguen. All Power To The People.
-Julio “SOMOS ONE” Magaña-Saludado