ICE Breaker Championships Raises Legal Funds For Young Immigrant and Sparks Unexpected Soccer Feud Between SJ and EPA

Supported by the local civil rights community, De-Bug's ACJP was able to raise the legal funds needed for a fourteen year old to fight a deportation order. The soccer tournament also turned out to be an epic sporting event that has redefined the concept of competition.

SAN JOSE, CA -- Competition filled the air on a hot Saturday afternoon as the first team walked up to the stadium for the first annual ICE Breaker Championships. The tournament was about two goals – one: raise legal funds for a 14-year-old who is fighting his deportation, and two: capture the immortal glory of being the last team standing.

Team YUCA, from East Palo Alto, had apparently been training for the tournament on a daily basis for months. Denying the tournament shirts, YUCA went straight to the field to warm up before the tournament – in their own team shirt. They were sending a message: East Palo Alto was here to rip the hearts out of their San Jose counterparts. The rest of the teams trickled in after. All of the top teams from the region showed up to play, for as long as it took – or before the Downtown College Prep field became a weekly dog park, which was in a few hours.  Teams raised their own funds to play, and a number of organizations such as the NAACP, ACLU, Asian Law Alliance, Silicon Valley Advisors, and other individual donors help sponsor the elite teams.

The teams named themselves, giving the crowd a glimpse into the psychological make-up of its players. Team Speed Racer was lead by 6-year-old Lil’ D. Though initially the “D” stood for David, after intense stops against his rivals, it became clear the “D” also stood for Defense. Then there was team Swagged Out Creatures – a team of youthful exuberance, who was as tough on the field as they were off – lodging formal complaints with the commission for the poor selection of halftime snacks. Team Mama, also from East Palo Alto, ironically did not have a mama playing. But players like Marcos says his unquenchable thirst for victory was based on one ambition, “I want my mama to know I got skills.” His mom, who watched the games from the sideline, looked undecided, and refused to comment.

Team First Place, tried to prophesize their championship through their name. Lead by Marlon and his brother, the team hit what turned out to be a season stopping substitution, when they were forced to replace star forward Stacy, with her less talented, yet always encouraging husband, Cesar. Team Late, comprised of San Jose rappers, were given their name by the tournament organizers. After qualifying for the finals, they later claimed the loss was due to the “illuminati.”

Team Freeze was by far the most neon squad in the tournament. A blur of bright green socks and shoes, the Vazquez family spent most of their time trying to get in the heads of opponents. The strategy failed miserably. Though they were equipped with the second coming of Bo Jackson -- a young man named Raymond. Unfortunatey, Ray could not make up for his parents or Aunt or Uncles utter lack of soccer proficiency. Team coach Ramon Vasquez was heard yelling offensive plays to his team, but they proved less effective as they turned out to be football plays. In a bizarre mid-game tactic, Raymond’s Uncle Junior appeared to be attempting a trade via his cell phone, with no avail. Team Perfect was the Cinderella team of the tournament. The team was made up of the mother of the photographer of the day Kymeira and the top scorer of team Swagged out creatures, Kaylani, young journalist Melissa, and Steeda McGruder -- founder of Sisters That Been There. They became Sisters That Been to the Finals – loosing a close and controversial game to Team YUCA.

The tournament began with Team First Place against the Swagged Out Creatures on the main field. The games were immensely intense, moves from the pro leagues were being brought to the field as YUCA devoured their competition winning at an end score of 10 to some irrelevant extremely low number. Team Speed Racer lost an extremely close game to Team Late. Defense attorney and ACJPer, Aram James of Team Speed Racer, has filed an appeal to the game based on constitutional violations on behalf of the team. Team Speed Racer is awaiting the court’s decision.

In the semi-finals, after a series of penalty shots Team First Place took a loss, launching YUCA to a guaranteed position in the championship game. Swagged Out Creatures also took a loss to Freez but did not qualify for the championship game since they had already lost in their previous match. Tournament organizers, Charisse and Cesar, had developed their own logic to explain who advanced to the finals. “We figured the heat would confuse people, and no one would notice we had made up a new tournament structure,” says Charisse. She was correct, and most players become more concerned with the number of remaining Capri Suns, rather then the remaining games as the day developed. Rumors have it that college football is studying Charisse and Cesar’s model in hopes of replacing their Bowl Championship Series (BCS) next year.

When the championship game arrived, everyone went crazy to see what these two winners will bring to the table. YUCA from EPA against Team Perfect from San Jose rallied – it was a battle of the best of the best. YUCA ended up being the winners of De-Bug’s Icebreakers Championships Soccer Tournament 2012. Other teams though felt some consolation, as YUCA had to wait for their ride at the end of the tournament, while the other teams got to go to dinner.

In the end, there was tears, sweat and blood shed on this hot saturday afternoon. No footage was available because of the illuminating light beaming from the player's soccer skills, and from the roles they play within the community.

(Go to to see more coverage of De-Bug's ICE Breaker Championships)

Lil D of team Speed Racer reads the eyes of his opponent, Marcos of Team Mama, in the critical rock, paper, siccor decision to see who would start with the ball.

Kaylani, of Team Swagged Out Creatures, races down the field, while Coach Tlacoyo sends an approving nod from the sidelines.

The sheer power of Raymond of Team Freez, also football player and MMA practioner, often left his opponents covering up when he prepared for kicks.

Stacy of Team First Place passes the ball, while a Team Freez on the next field takes a more measured approach to the game.

Though he could not locate the ball, Cola of Metafizix and Team Late attempts to engage Melissa of Team Perfect in a mid-game cypher.

Marlon of Team First Place surveys the field of play.

Briel of Team Swagged Out Creatures finds herself in an epic struggle as she deadlocks on "scissors" with Ramon of Team Freez.

Juan of Team YUCA was braking the ankles of his competitors during games.

Though strict with all the teams, Tournament Referee Nanjappa was often distracted when beep beeps drove by the field.


* Photos by Kymeira Stewart.

About Cesar Flores

Cesar Flores is a writer and videographer with Silicon Valley De-Bug. He is also a lead organizer with Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project.

About Raj Jayadev

Raj Jayadev is the coordinator of SV De-Bug and coordinates the Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project, an organizing model for families and communities to impact their local court systems. He is an Ashoka Fellow.

This article is part of the categories: Community  / Immigration  / Law & Justice  / Photo  / Sports 
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Classic Gold. Just great! Hope it went well and the youngster immigrant breaks away from ICE

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