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COMMUNITY VOICES | Hmong North Minneapolis Soccer Players Cheer Coach Blong Yang Victory
Farview Soccer Shout-Out: “Yeah Blong Yang!!”
North Minneapolis Hmong soccer players have some special reasons to cheer the election of Blong Yang as Minneapolis’ first Hmong councilmember: not only is he their new alderman, he is also the founding league coach for their Farview Park soccer team.
As the van picked up Farview soccer players Saturday for indoor soccer, they were asked what they thought of Blong Yang’s election.
“I think Blong Yang will be a good councilmember, because he was a good coach,” says Ab Vue.
Je Yang gives his thumbs up to Blong as councilmember “Because he is a Yang like me.”
“Blong will have some new ideas,”, says Yeng Vang, “and he speaks Hmong, so he can talk with my parents.”
Tou Wang Lee is proud that “Blong is the first Hmong elected in Minneapolis.”
Coach Blong Yang with 2006 Farview Park 14u soccer team
In 2006, Blong Yang coached the Farview Park 14u soccer team. This team literally came out of nowhere: 18 months before, all but one of the players were living in a Thai refugee camp. The players were small and scrawny, and the players from the other teams towered over them: But with Blong’s drive and guidance, they won their first game 6-1, and went on to an undefeated regular season and league championship in the Minneapolis Parks Soccer League.
Coach Blong talks strategy with his soccer players
Blong coached Farview teams for three more years, and each year his team won the league championship.
As their coach, Blong heard about the many problems his refugee players had in their schools: getting hit, lack of bilingual teachers, overcrowded classes.
And he also heard about criminal attacks suffered by the refugee families: doors busted down while the families were inside, a robber pointing a gun at children in their house and threatening to blow their heads off, assaults on the street, thefts and car break-ins. Two Farview soccer players were hit with stray bullets – both survived.
Blong also knew that these refugee families spoke very limited English and would face challenges getting their voices heard.
Blong Helps refugee families explain to Minneapolis Public Schools officials that a 45 student classroom is too big
He came to meetings and supported families when they said their 40+ student classes were overcrowded and needed to be cut.
Blong Yang urges councilmember Hofstede to support Hmong police officer in North Minneapolis
And he collected postcards and participated in meetings when Hmong families asked for a Hmong police officer in North Minneapolis to talk with. At one meeting, Blong faced up to an uninvited, irate police officer.
Blong Yang wins crucial allies with courageous endorsement of Halloween.
When he started his campaign for 5th ward councilmember, Blong Yang signs popped up in the yards of many Farview soccer families, and some Farview soccer alumnae pounded doors and passed out flyers.
Blong Yang gives words of encouragement to Bethune Park soccer players ahead of their game with Bottineau Park
Blong’s North Minneapolis soccer roots stretch past Farview Park to the Latino soccer players at Bethune Park. This fall Blong came out to cheer on the Bethune team in their showdown with Bottineau park. Then, when the Minneapolis Parks referees failed to show, Blong stayed on and refereed two more games, enabling 50 soccer players to have fun who otherwise would have gone home disappointed.
As the van continued going house-to-house picking up players, Farview soccer players also chimed in on community improvements they hope councilmember Yang can help them with: “Less crime” said Meng Xiong, who was jumped in the park in front of his house a few weeks ago. Tou Wang Lee added “fewer shootings, and more police.” As the van dodged cones and road closed signs, Farview soccer players also prayed for road construction on 26th Ave. N. to end soon.
Farview soccer players were unanimous on one amenity that would improve the neighborhood: “We need more soccer fields!”
The Farview soccer players are happy for Blong and proud of his election victory, and look forward to working with Blong for the next four years, both at city hall and on the soccer field.
Coach Blong Yang with 2009 Farview Park 18u soccer team
© 2013 Jay Clark