Garifuna Coalition Honors a Leader

The Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc. is proud to announce that Ms. Xiomara Esmeralda Arriola, president and founder of the New York Honduras Soccer League, Inc., will be honored at the 5th Annual Masterpiece of Humanity Fundraising Gala at Tosca Marquee, 4034 East Tremont Ave., Bronx, NY on Sunday, Feb. 16, 7:00 – 11:00 p.m, for her leadership in uniting communities through the sport of soccer.

Ms. Arriola was born in Santa Fe, Honduras and migrated to the United States in 1985.

She has always had a love for sports, especially soccer (Futbol) and participated with various teams in New York city. In 1995, after realizing that her teenage sons, who often hung around All Saints Lutheran Church on East 163rd St., needed something better to do and founded a youth soccer team, Los Santos – “The Saints” – for the boys at the church.

In 2009, she decided to organize the New York Honduras Soccer League, Inc. to bring the various Honduran teams together, along with some clubs for players from Africa, the Caribbean and other Central American nations. The league now boasts 25 teams, each with 20 or more players, which are named for the Honduran towns that their members hail from. Different teams cater to young men, adult men and women and children.

That same year Xiomara began to lobby the New York City Parks Department to build a $626,000 synthetic-turf soccer field in the 127-acre Crotona Park which previously only had facilities for baseball, basketball, handball and tennis.

Xiomara who was appointed by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr to serve as a member of Bronx Community Board 3, which includes Crotona Park, made several presentations to the board about the need for a soccer field, brought players from the league to board meetings and even led board members on a fact-gathering visit to Crotona Park. She also met with members of the Parks Department on several occasions, where she described the need for a field and the exact type of synthetic turf she was after.

In 2010, the City decided to construct a synthetic-turf field over a former playground area at the park, which was completed in 2011. The New York Honduras Soccer League, Inc. tournaments are played on weekend games at Ferry Point Park in Throgs Neck.

Ticket information is available from Sulma Arzu-Brown at (718) 402-7700.

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