Festival Promotes Awareness

Festival Promotes Awareness

In an effort to promote awareness, a community-based organization provides Loudoun’s Hispanic community with a voice and an opportunity to celebrate Hispanic culture through soccer.

La Voz, a nonprofit organization, invites the community to take part in the second annual Men’s Soccer Tournament, Saturday, Aug. 20, and Sunday, Aug. 21. There will be a family festival Saturday, from 1-5 p.m. All events take place at Potomac Lakes Sportsplex in Sterling.

LA VOZ PRESIDENT Laura Valle believes the tournament and festival provide a great opportunity for Loudoun community members to interact and learn about Hispanic culture and its most popular sport.

The teams are made up of Loudoun County men who have brought their passion for soccer to the United States. The teams are divided by nationalities, making their annual weekend pickup games very competitive.

“Most people say they didn’t know they were Hispanic until they came here,” Valle said. “Just Peruvian or Salvadorian.”

Valle hopes this soccer tournament will bring unity to the Hispanic population and promote integration.

Companies, like Washington D.C.’s Metroplex, which have large numbers of Hispanic employees of different nationalities, have formed teams and will play in the tournament.

“We want Spanish and English speakers to come together at the tournament and festival,” Valle said.

SATURDAY’S FESTIVAL will provide the Hispanic community with many resources. There will be 24 booths, including companies, like Miller and Long Concrete Construction, with job opportunities, social service organizations, free health screening and information about banking and home ownership. The Loudoun County Public Schools and juvenile courts system will be there to answer questions.

The festival provides information, as well as entertainment. The international salsa band, Sin Miedo, will play the cha-cha-cha and meringue live. There will be traditional food and handmade jewelry vendors through out the Sportsplex. Children’s activities include tie dye and a labyrinth.

“Last year, there were about 500 people at the one-day tournament,” Valle said. “We’re hoping to get 1,000 people this year.”

Players from the Major Leagues Soccer team DC United, an event sponsor, will sign autographs and watch the championship game, at 5 p.m., Sunday.

Other sponsors include Citibank, AOL, Kaiser Permanante and Miller and Long Concrete Construction.

ALL PROCEEDS GO toward La Voz’s Newcomer Welcome Center. The community center will provide Loudoun County’s immigrant population with English classes, immigration assistance and health care.

“The best we can do now is refer them to nonprofit and government organizations and even some companies,” Valle said. “Our long-term goal is to be able to directly assist them in our community center.”

La Voz, a 100 percent volunteer effort, acts as a conduit between the Hispanic population, nonprofit organizations, government agencies and other groups, in order to promote self-sufficiency in the community, through advocacy, education, open forums and programs that strengthen family networks.

For more information or to make a donation, visit www.lavozloudoun.org.