For a couple of years, spectators have enjoyed watching middle and high school youths compete to be the champion of a popular soccer tournament. Now, they’ll be able to watch college students do the same.
The third annual “Kicking It With Juntos” Indoor Soccer Tournament is scheduled to begin Friday, March 4 and will continue through Sunday, March 6 at the Sunset Avenue School gymnasium, 505 Sunset Ave., Clinton. Admission for spectators is $4 and children 5 and under are free. Concessions will be available ranging from $1 to $3.
The Juntos program, which means “together” in Spanish, began in 2007 in Raleigh and is now active in several other states. Associated with 4-H, its overall purpose is to help Latino students graduate from high school and have access to higher education. To help with the process, a mentoring system is in place for students to receive help with their studies.
“They’re very active in their community,” said Katherine Rivera, adviser for Juntos at Clinton High School said about the service-based club. “That’s what they want. They want the community to recognize their work to create a better environment for the Latino people.”
Rivera said the tournament, one of the organization’s biggest events, began with the organization raising funds for a trip to Washington, D.C. Between Clinton and Hobbton High Schools about 130 are in the club, which resulted in challenges for local organization. Although they did not make the trip to the nation’s capitol, funds from the tournament may be used to Camp Rockfish in Raeford.
“It’s a leadership camp and kids can participate in team building activities,” Rivera said. “It’s a time for them to relax. They work really hard during the year.”
During the year, the club members are busy with educational workshops, community gatherings such as Latino outreach meetings with local law enforcement and college visits with parents.
Rivera said the tournament continues to grow each year with participants from Sampson County and other counties. The first game for the middle school division will begin at 4 p.m. Friday, March 4. Those games will be followed by high school competitors, with the first game starting at 8 a.m. Saturday, March 5. This year, Juntos is adding a university division which is set to begin at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, March 6. About five teams, representing students from nearby colleges have signed up for the event.
“It feels great to know that so many kids are interested in playing,” Rivera said in regards to the amount of teams playing in the event.
In addition to raising funds for the trip, the Juntos Club will partner with Enlighten The World Ministries by collecting food to its local food bank. A couple of years, the students assisted the program during the holiday season. During the event, Juntos member will be required to bring can foods to the event. Spectators from the public will receive a $1 discount if they bring two cans of food to the event. Only one discount is allowed per admission.
“Hopefully by Sunday (Pastor Thomas Miles) will have to bring his truck to pick up all of these can goods we’ll be donating to him,” Rivera said about Miles and the Enlighten The World Ministries.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.