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WATTS : Diversity at Play in Beverly Hills

George Wolfberg doesn’t expect the game of soccer to change lives, but he is hoping today’s soccer festival will provide some of its 165 young participants another look at life.

Wolfberg, commissioner of the Watts Friendship Sports League, helped coordinate the noon-to-5 p.m. event at La Cienega Park, 8400 Gregory Way, Beverly Hills, after getting a call from one of his friends.

“The mayor of Beverly Hills and others had been involved in programs in Watts, and they said, ‘What can Beverly Hills and Watts do together to increase awareness between the two communities?’ ” Wolfberg said.

Created in 1989, the league provides youths of elementary school age with an opportunity to play on organized teams in baseball, basketball and soccer at several locations in Watts.

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Wolfberg said parent-run activities like the American Youth Soccer Organization had not been very successful in Watts because of the lack of parent participation, but that is changing.

“We essentially employed college-age kids from the area to do what the parents did, which is coaching the kids,” he said. “But we’re starting to get a few parents to come, and some of them are volunteering now.”

“This is a good example of cultural diversity,” said Henry Boyd, supervisor at the Algin Sutton Recreation Center at 8800 S. Hoover St.

“You’ll have some of the project teams that are mostly black playing with kids whose teams are mostly white or Latino.”

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The event, co-sponsored by AYSO and the World Cup soccer organization, will include dribbling relays, a soccer clinic led by the UCLA women’s soccer team and a full-length game.

The event is being partially funded by the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks, which is providing buses to take some of the youths from South-Central to La Cienega Park.

Watts Friendship Sports League information: Tanika Jackson, (213) 346-7392.


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