Reaching Great Heights
Alexander Lux Bal
Alex had finally found a steady welcoming home in which he could identify with Mariano, his foster brother who introduced him to soccer. Alex describes never liking soccer as a child and being embarrassed to play because of his height, but he agreed to ‘kick a ball around' with Mariano.
After having the chance to play with a real club team, Alex demonstrated his natural talent with ‘el balon' and scoring his first goal in the first game.
"I enjoyed it because I was shown respect that I had never received before and people admired me. I never knew that I would receive that type of respect. The crowd cheered, praised me and hugged me and that was when I realized that I was good at soccer."
It was bittersweet for Alex once he turned 18 as his foster family could not care for him any longer and he was directed towards the Jovenes Inc. program in Boyle Heights. Once Alex arrived at Jovenes Inc, he immediately asked if there was a soccer field near by where he could kick around ‘el balon'. He was surprised and excited that they had a team in which I could play. It was there that Alex met his coach, Johny Figueroa who has taught him how to utilize and perfect his talents. It didn't take Coach Figueroa long to take notice of Alex's dominance and speed in the game handing him the title of MVP several times including at the Street Soccer USA National Cup.
Never did Alex dream to be taking part in the Homeless World Cup tournament in Rio de Janeiro this past September. But to his surprise, he was the first name called out in the roster for the U.S. national team. "Fue grandioso", or "it was amazing" he says realizing his true potential and love for the game.
Participating in the 2010 Homeless World Cup has already been a dream come true for Alex, even though they did not place, he says the team had a great time and he is very grateful to have had the opportunity to represent the U.S.
Alex is currently training in hopes of being selected to play for the Guatemalan national team and represent his home country in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Words for SSUSA: "I think it's a great program which gives people the opportunity to travel and to realize what it really means to play soccer. It gives people a way to get out of drugs and alcohol and play soccer. My experience has been amazing and it has given me the strength to keep living. I love soccer and because of this program I have become more passionate about the sport. I knew that I could get to something better and that I would get to play for a professional team. It has been the key to a better life."
Words for Jovenes: "What I like most about Jovenes Inc. is that it has a real family structure; they give us a roof over our heads, a chance to study, to eat and they support everyone in their goals. It's an amazing program; it is very structured and they focus on education. It's not just another homeless shelter. I never knew this kind of place would exist, I feel like they are my family, they are everything to me, they're all I have."
Words for Homeless World Cup: "I think the directors at the Homeless World Cup are truly a God send because they are truly changing lives. They are not only promoting the most popular sport in the world but also giving players like me the opportunity just to play soccer. There is no other program like it in the world."
Words for the world: "My hope is that every person that reads continues to support programs like Street Soccer USA, Jovenes Inc. and the Homeless World Cup. Whether it is though donations, posting comments online, just give back helps a lot. It gives players like me the opportunity to find a second family. I now have love, peace, and health. I would also like to invite everyone to play soccer, it's a great sport! I've only been playing a year and look how far I've gotten."
Life goals: "I want to play soccer professionally either in Guatemala or any league where they will give me the opportunity to prove myself and show the world that despite my stature I can reach great heights."