SELMA-- In a heated exhibition soccer match on June 18 at Jackson Elementary School, the Selma Youth Soccer Club took a 4-1 win against the Selma Galaxy.

With tensions running high from the opening kick, players from both teams continued to complain to the referee, who decided to end the game with 10 minutes left in the second half.

"I got mad at the refs. They only called the fouls on us," Selma Youth Soccer Club player Cristian Ramos said. 

"We were getting mad and losing our temper," added Ramos' teammate Carlos Figueroa. 

Selma Youth Club soccer coach Felipe Garcia has been preaching to his team about controlling their temper.

"I always tell them 'keep quiet. If he calls it, it's a done deal.' They're kids. They're out there on the field, so it's hard," he said.

The Galaxy, made up of middle school students, had a huge task against Selma's Youth Soccer Club, which features high school freshmen and sophomores.

"They're good for a team of seventh-graders, going to eighth. We just have more experience playing soccer," Ramos said.

Still, the Galaxy are making strides in terms of gaining experience. 

"They're growing a lot," coach Alex Rodela. "I actually have three players on the team right now that are on the Olympic Development squad watch list, which means that they're being watched in every game they play in the NorCal system. They get invited to the tryouts."

Rodela feels fortunate to have a team in Selma, a place which is often visited by scouts.

"We have talent on this team and actually in Selma," he said. "We get more scouts come out and see us from college and pro scouts. It gives these guys a great opportunity to show their talents."

This past spring, the Galaxy played in the gold division in the NorCal league. The results didn't go in the Galaxy's favor, but the team walked away with confidence. 

"It was our first time playing in NorCal," Rodela said. "We were in every game. We just didn't have victories." 

The Galaxy will have another challenge this summer when they play in the Copa Classico de San Jose youth soccer tournament on June 25. 

"It's the biggest cup in the West Coast area. I believe we can win it," Rodela said. "We have the talent for it."

In October, the Galaxy will play in the Las Vegas Mayor's Cup, an international tournament which features youth soccer teams from all over the world. 

"That's the biggest international youth tournament there is in the United States," Rodela said. 

During the game against the Selma Youth Soccer Club, the Galaxy raised money for their upcoming trips. Rodela said it takes up to a $1,000 per player to go to a tournament.

"We built this club here in Selma for the kids. A lot of them can't really afford the $1,000 which the bigger clubs pay," he said. 

Rodela still hopes for more help from the community.

"Everything is fundraised by the kids or it's out of my pocket, even our family members pitch in. We've asked businesses for donations, but we get shot down," Rodela said. "There's a lot of youth teams here fighting for donations, but I think if the community really wants to, they can help us."

The Selma Youth Soccer Club also has big plans for the summer.  

"We're starting a new league, Sanger league. Then we're planning to do a couple of tournaments up north, then south," coach Felipe Garcia said. "As long as everybody shows up to practice Tuesday and Thursday, we should be OK. We're going to play big clubs. It will be fun."

If you would like to reach this reporter contact tkassahun@selmaenterprise.com

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