RPD Takes Soccer Team to International Tournament

The soccer team won third place in the international tournament.
Thanks to the RPD and the City of Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department, a local youth soccer team got to experience the challenge of competing against some of the best teams in the world at the Disney Cup International Youth Soccer Tournament, which was held July 11-16 in Orlando, Florida.

Sergeant R.E. Benjamin and Senior Officer V.J. Espinoza of the North District Community Policing Unit, along with Senior Officer H.L. Morton III of the Family Violence Intervention Unit, accompanied the team to the tournament, which was held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex within the Walt Disney World Resort. The team, which was coached by Espinoza, had an outstanding record in regular season and tournament play during the past several seasons, and were invited to participate in the tournament.

Because many of the team members’ families are unable to pay the cost of local tournament expenses, Espinoza and Benjamin initially thought that raising the funds to take the team to the Disney Cup might be an insurmountable obstacle, but neither they nor the team members were willing to give up on the opportunity, and soon the police department and City of Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department joined forces to sponsor the team.

The other 11 teams in the team’s age group included some of the highest-ranked youth soccer clubs in Florida, New York, New Jersey, Canada, the United Kingdom, Colombia, and Honduras. Benjamin said that although the competition was tough, the team played with tenacity and dedication, soundly defeating one opponent and playing intense games against two other teams that were lost by a close margin. At the end of tournament play, the team was awarded the third place trophy, and each team member received a medal.

“I'm so proud of each of the players’ enthusiasm and love of the game,” said Espinoza. “These kids proudly represented the City of Raleigh by showing great sportsmanship and by maintaining positive attitudes on and off the field.”

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