Soccer: Bulls give back with free camp

By Austin Jackson | Published Wednesday, July 25, 2018
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Passing Skills

PASSING SKILLS – Bridgeport soccer players served as coaches to give back to area youth last week, hosting a free soccer camp in Bridgeport. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The Bridgeport Bulls soccer team has its third coach in three years and players have come and gone.

While there’s been plenty of changes, there’s been two constants – rowdy home games and winning.

Talent can bring wins, but what the Bulls have built in Bridgeport is a culture evidenced by its trophy case and cheering section, where kids, like Daniel Aguilar, 10, follow the games in awe.

“One day, I’d like to play for Bridgeport.” Aguilar said.

Last week, on a field behind the La Quinta, that culture grew.

Learning the Ropes

LEARNING THE ROPES – Bridgeport soccer player Rigo Alvarez showcases his juggling ability to campers while coaching at the free soccer camp the team helped provide to local kids in Bridgeport. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Little cleats and big eyes of area kids spilled onto the field for four days where members of Bridgeport’s boys and girls soccer teams coached kids in the brutal heat with no incentive beyond a chance to give back.

Sixty kids registered for the free soccer camp, said Gabe Rangel, Bridgeport soccer announcer and First United Methodist pastor. Rangel helped organize the camp.

Rangel has seen the community wrap their arms around the soccer teams in recent years. Instead of hiring coaches to run the camp, he wanted to give Bridgeport players an opportunity to show their appreciation for the fans and the kids who made the Bulls players their role models.

“These kids support our players every game,” Rangel said. “They’re in the stands for them. The players wanted to help, and the kids, they just love it. I think for them getting to spend time with the players means the world.”

Rangel said the camp, now in its second year, gives kids who wouldn’t have had the opportunity otherwise, a chance to learn the game from their heroes.

On Thursday, Rigo Alvarez, one of Bridgeport’s leading scorers, taught kids how to properly strike a penalty kick.

He challenged the group of kids to score a PK with him moonlighting as a goalkeeper. Seconds later, a young girl blasted a ball into the upper corner of the net.

“Y’all didn’t see that,” Alvarez said, laughing and shielding his face as the girl scurried back in line with a huge smile on her face. “Great shot. Hey, who taught you how to do that?’

Alvarez is proud to pass along his knowledge of the game, wounded pride or not. It’s the least he could do, he said.

“I remember when I first started as one of the few freshman on the team. It was amazing seeing all that support,” he said. “Traditionally no one really comes to a soccer games in Texas. Bridgeport is small, but soccer here is a big deal.

The First Methodist Church messaged the team on Instagram, Rigoberto said.

“A lot of the kids look at us like we’re so cool. I feel like we’re setting a good example,” he said. “We’re doing good for Bridgeport High School.”

Bridgeport athletic director Shannon Wilson said seeing students at Bridgeport give back to the community is something he’s proud of.

“They’re a great group of kids that work very hard and it’s shown,” Wilson said. “They’re looked up to in this community.”

Alvarez said he enjoyed seeing older brothers on the team coach their siblings. It’s a chance to see the future of Bridgeport soccer.

“There’s a lot of little kids that are going to grow up to be real good players here,” he said. “I’m just glad I can help.”

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