The GR family proud to represent the Guatemalan community on the football field

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – Hundreds of people take to the Grand Rapids area soccer fields throughout the summer and fall to watch amateur teams play in local leagues.

On Saturday afternoon there was a big turnout for the match between Guatemala and Suchi. The teams met in the Grand Rapids Hispanic League final.

Suchi won the game 1-0. Whatever the outcome, Guatemala coach Anmer Mendez said he and his players are looking forward to making it into the weekly matches.

“We work hard during the week and wait until Sunday, Saturday to have fun and watch games,” Mendez said.

Guatemala is a team that has been playing in the Grand Rapids area leagues for over thirty years. The team has a large following with many Guatemalan fans showing up to support the team on a weekly basis.

“Look at all these people here,” said Alexis Mendez, the brother of Anmer Mendez who plays for the team. “Mostly fans who come here and follow our team. Just wonderful.”

The Mendez family have played an important role in the history of the team. Anmer Mendez joined the team as a player 25 years ago.

“This team, my uncles were the ones who started the team first,” says Anmer Mendez. “They retired and I came and I pretty much took over and my brothers came too.”

A total of six members of the Mendez family are part of the current team. Anmer Mendez’s son Chris Mendez performs under his direction, as do four of Anmer’s younger brothers.

Alexis Mendez is her younger brother. He played collegially in Davenport and Aquinas and professionally in Guatemala.

“My brother put it in my soul,” he said. “We grew up playing. Just in the blood.

Although the goal is to win matches and titles, Anmer Mendez is grateful that he can share his passion for the sport with his family and the local Guatemalan community.

“It means everything,” Anmer Mendez said. “Where we come from, we brothers, we were playing in the streets over there. We made our own balloon out of a bunch of plastic bags, that’s the story there.

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