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Interview with Lalo Sanchez




Lalo Sanchez was born in Dallas, Texas, and moved to Minnesota after serving as a military policeman during World War II. He organized his first soccer team in Minnesota in 1947, and as coach of the Azteca Soccer Club, which he organized in 1969 with youth players from the West Side community, he has received many awards for himself and the team. Azteca won state championships in 1973, 1974 and 1975. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Soccer, including the following topics: league structure in Minnesota - awards received by Azteca - type of training required - reasons why Humboldt High School should have a soccer team - and discrimination and exclusion by the Minnesota Soccer Association.





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Transcript of an Oral History Interview with Lalo Sanchez July 23, 1975 Interviewer: Ramedo Saucedo

This intervievl \vas conducted as part of a series on the Mexican American in Minnesota. Hr. Lalo Sanchez was born in Dallas, Texas and came to Minnesota after having served as a Military Policeman during World \var II. He discusses his involvement with soccer since early childhood to the present. He organized his first team in Minnesota in 1947. As coach of the Azteca Club, he has received many awards. The Azteca Club has won a number of Championships and some of the players have gone on to play professional soccer. In addition to the successes, he also discusses some of the difficulties in the sport. This is a transcript of a taDe-recorded interview edited to aid in clarity and ease of comprehension for the reader. The original tape recording is available in the Audio-visual Library of the Minnesota Historical Society.

INTERVIEW WITH LALO SANCHEZ July 23, 1975 Interviewer: SAUCEDO: Ramedo Saucedo

This interview is being conducted as part of the Mexican American Project for the Minnesota Historical Scoiety on July 23, 1975. Sanchez, let's start off with the date and place of your birth. were you born, and how many members of your family are there? Senor Where


I come from a family of eleven boys and two girls. is in Dallas, Texas. the age of fifteen

My birth place

I was born in Dallas and raised in Mexico to



Did you attend school in Dallas? No. Unfortunately, I was too old when I came from Mexico. I was

fifteen, so I didnJ.t attend school here in the United States at all. SAUCEDO: SANCHEZ: Did you work in either Mexico or the United States? Yes, I did work in Mexico. But not what you would call work. I came

from a village where I tended the livestock of my grandmother and that's the work that I have done. SAUCEDO: SANCHEZ: Are you married? No. Do you have any children? Not at present. I have three children, two

I'm not married.

boys and a girl. SAUCEDO: SANCHEZ: SAUCEDO: SANCHEZ: SAUCEDO: What are their names? Rudolph, Leonardo and Sylvia. How old are they? Leonardo is 25, Rudolph is 28, my daughter is 30 years old. Do you speak Spanish and if so did you learn it in Mexico? back to Mexico from time to time? SANCHEZ: Yes, I do speak Spanish. where I have my uncles. SAUCEDO: When did you get started in soccer, Senor Sanchez? I do go back to Mexico to visit my folks, Do you go

-2SANCHEZ: I have played soccer for as long as I can remember. seven years old, as soon as I could kick a ball. game we have in Mexico. SAUCEDO: Did you play on any organized soccer teams in Mexico or in the United States before coming to Minnesota? SANCHEZ: Oh, yes. I played in Mexico for a length of time. I have played I was six or

That's the only

in the United States before. semi-pro. SAUCEDO:

For another length of time, I played

Can you mention some of the teams you've played for? Also in Dallas, I've

SANCHEZ: I have played for EI Phonix in Dallas. played for Chensvolt.

Right off, I don't remember many of the teams

that I've played for, but I have played quite a bit of soccer. SAUCEDO: SANCHEZ: SAUCEDO: SANCHEZ: When did you come to Minnesota? I came to Minnesota right after World War II. Do you remember why or how it was that you did come to Minnesota? Yes. I was an M.P. during World War II, and I happened to come We stayed two days I learn-

from San Antonio, on train, checking passes. in Minnesota.

Back on the train, two days to San Antonio.

ed about the Twin Cities at that time. and this is why I made it my home. SAUCEDO:

I really liked the Twin Cities

When was the first time you began thinking about organizing a soccer team here in Minnesota1


Well, there wasn't any soccer here when I arrived and I figured that Minnesota needed the sport. Not "needed" it, but it would be So in 1947, I

nice if we would have soccer here in Minnesota.

started a little playing with kids and it took me quite a while,/because kids in Minnesota didn't know ve;ry;.llIluch;;:about,')soceer. So, I just practiced with them, played with them on my own time and, from

-3SANCHEZ: 1947 to 1969, I started working with boys. 1966 I started working with elderly boys. 20, up to 25 years old. SAUCEDO: Where did you train the bo~s?~, What fieLd? 'What area? Paul? SANCHEZ: It was in St. Paul. Island. SAUCEDO: SANCHEZ: I think you call it Navy Island or the Harriet Was it in St. No, I take that back, in By elderly, I mean 18, 19,

It is our home field now, Harriet Island.

How did you go about getting these boys together? I started with mostly all Mexican boys from the West Side. ed working with them. are still with me. I start-

In fact, four of the boys who I started with

I have accomplished quite a bit within the six I've played in the I've played for the We have

years that I've been working with these boys. league of the Minnesota Soccer Association.

past three years now and we haven't to this day been beaten.

won all championships, all classes, the Minnesota Cup, the Wilson Cup, the League Cup. Weare the top club right now. We hope that

in 1975 we'll win the championship again. SAUCEDO: What are the divisions in soccer in your team in- at the present time? SANCHEZ: I started off with the Third Division. There is a Third Division, Now, at the

and what division is

Second Division, First Division and Major Division. present, I'm in the Major Division.

And we, right now, are trailing,

by one point, the Corinthians of Minneapolis. SAUCEDO: You were State Champs in 1974. the time? SANCHEZ: We broke alL kinds of records. year of 1974. teams. We had the most goals scored in the What type of record did you have at

In fact, we had 169 goals that we scored against other

We only had seven goals scored against us in the year of 1974.

-4SAUCEDO: SANCHEZ: SAUCEDO: How many games did you play in 1974? We played 39 games all together. It's a good record. Have you noticed any growing interest in soccer

since you came to Minnesota? SANCHEZ:

Oh yes, defin;tely.


I have noticed in schools; junior high schools,

elementary schools, colleges, allover Minnesota, that soccer is just booming right now. As a referee I have gone allover Minnesota You name

to referee colleges, high schools and junior high schools. it, and I have refereed there. a lot. SAUCEDO: Have you had any sponsors? sponsors? SANCHEZ:

I have noticed that soccer is growing

What are the difficulties in obtaining

Well, believe it or not, I've been trying very, very hard to get a sponsor. One thing I have never had is a sponsor. We have tried"


throughout the Minnesota area, the Twin City area, to get a sponsor for us. one.

far, we haven't succeeded in getting support from anyI have given my time. The little

I have done this on myoown.

money that I caq save I put right into my boys. few dollars to keep the boys going •

It takes quite a


Have you taken your boys to other countries to play this game? Oh, yes. I have taken my boys to Canada to play in the International We did very well there. In fact, we even won the Champ-



ionship. ,I think I have a real nice group of boys playing for the Azteca Soccer Club now. , SAUCEDO: You have a

of trophies, I noticed.

Offall the trophies you

have, which one gives you the most pride?


I'll take them one at a time.

I have pride in all of them.


trophy that I have has taken a lot of effort, a lot of work, a lot of sweat from my boys.

I think that the most valuable trophy that

-5SANCHEZ: I have is the Minnesota Cup. ever. In one more year, we can keep it forWhoever wins it for

It's a traveling trophy for three years.

three years straight will get to keep the trophy. SAUCEDO: Congratulations. We certainly hope that it will come about. What

. type of boy should play soccer?

What type of training, what type

of discipline is necessary in order for a boy to get fully involved in the playing of soccer? SANCHEZ: A young man has to feel the game. where you get hit and hit. It's not like American football You have to be able You cannot play soccer

Soccer is an art.

to think, ,to feel the ball as your own body. without feeling.

A young man, when he becomes a soccer


to feel exactly what soccer is all about. finesse, it's a beautiful game. up with is feeling.

It's an art, it's a game of

The only thing that you have to come I have

There's a lot of feeling behind soccer.

trained young men and I have noticed that they've been playing beautifully now for the past six years. still

I have four of these boys, who are I hope I can see more


They are just beautiful players.

Mexican boys play tmis game throughout the Twin Cities. Do you think we need a Little League on the West Side? Oh, yes. How many schools are currently involved in soccer? example? High schools for



Just about every high school around the Twin Cities right now is involved in ,soccer. I hope that our own school, Humboldt High School, Most of our Mexican, people go there.

will get involved also. SAUCEDO:

What do you think is necessary for involvement on the part of Humboldt High School?


Well, I'm afraid that they haven't got any coaches.


They'need coaches.

-6SANCHEZ: They need eomebody with experience to go in there and start working with young kids. Let them learn, let them feel the game. With a

coach, I think Humboldt High School'can become one of the leading schools in soccer. SAUCEDO: Does the Neighborhood House or Roosevelt Junior High School have any type of program for soccer? SANCHEZ: SAUCEDO: No, they haven'tl I hate to say it, but no, they haven't got one. I know that everyYour team certainly

Lalo, you have a remarkable recorn in soccer. where you go, you represent the Mexican people. is well representative of this fact. awards in addition to the trophies.

You've received a number of What awards have you received?


Well, I've received best coach of the year award •.. J. have received six other trophies for the championship of your games. for the best team of the year. in the Twin Cities. And also,

Altogether, we have the best team


Have any of your players gone on to play professional soccer? Oh, yes. Can you name some of those players and the teams they are with? I have four already, out of my own team, who'have turned professional. I've got one boy by the name of Lalo Del Mazo who is playing professional~.

I have another boy by the name of Augustine Sanchez Gilberto Almendarez is playing

who's also playing professionally.

and another boy, in California, turned professional

from my team. SAUCEDO: Do anticipate professional soccer coming to the Twin Cities of6bhe

state of Minnesota in the near future?


Oh, defin;ttely. of Minnesota.


I know soccer is growing so much here in the state I have seen all of these schools, high schools and

colleges, and I know that professional soccer will be here in Minne-

-7SANCHEZ: sota. I wou1d say within two years, maybe three years, we are going professional soccer right here'in the state of Minne-

to be seeing sota. SAUCEDO:

Has Pele's playing, or getting Pele to come to the United States, increased the interest in soccer?


Oh, Pele has boomed soccer. the United States.

He is bringing soccer alive here in

The master himself, Pele, is going to put soccer

on everybody's television. SAUCEDO: Lalo, I know that the expenses are great in running a soccer team. Can you elaborate and go into detail? What are some of the expenses?

Where is the money coming from since it's difficult in this day and age to find sponsors? SANCHEZ: Well, the money has been coming out of my own pocket. The little

money that I have saved through the years, I've been puttihg into my team. It takes quite a few dollars to keep a team going. For

instance, insurance; once a year I have to put $250 up just for insurance. buy. Medications, first aid, these are things that I have to

I know that a little medication doesn't sound like much but it The field; I have to mark the field It comes to $2.00 and

totals up to a lot of money. every week.

I use four bags for marking. Refereeing:

some cents a bag. referee.

It takes $30.00 per game to pay my

,This means 38 games a year that I have to pay my referees.

I also have a few other minor

that boys need, e.g. bandages, I'm sorry to

knee supports, and you name it.

It runs into money.

say, but it seems like I'm running out of money now and I think that this team, the Aztecas, which has brought the Mexican American boys into light, is going to have to SAUCEDO:

because of finances.

Mr. Sanchez, have you or your team members ever been discriminated



against on the field or off the field? . Yes. I have been hurt quite a bit by the Association. The first

three years of soccer, I challenged all teams and they accepted me very, very willI. SAUCEDO: SANCHEZ: What teams did you play on, for example? Here in the state of Minnesota, I have played for the St. Paul Soccer Club, which consists of only German boys. of World War II. They were D.P.s at the time I played with

They were all coming fvom Germany.

them and they accepted me. SAUCEDO: SANCHEZ:

I was a good player for them.

Is that the year you won the State Championship? That's the year we won the Championship here in St. Paul and I was, well, considered one of the top players here in the state of Minnesota.


Did they have players on that team who were not born in the United States?


Oh, definpttely.


Everyone of them was not born in the United States. Now that I have my own

They were all European, everyone of them. team, they have:)hurt me. Mexican boys. winning.

They don't allow me to have more than two We are

They're doing this because we are a good team.

We are beating out every darn team that has been placed in

front of us, and they're trying to get me one way or another. SAUCEDO: When you say Mexican boys, are you refering to boys who were born in Mexico? SANCHEZ: Yes, boys who were born in Mexico and who are spill 18-19 years old and who are going to school. language barrier. to me. They come up to Minnesota and have a

They don't speak English very well, so they come Of

Since I know Spanish, they all want to join the team.

-9SANCHEZ: course I'm going to, say yes. ing me only two guest players~ SAUCEDO: Are there any rules with the Minnesota Soccer Association that make this restriction? SANCHEZ: There are no rules in the U.S.S.F. that limit players like thisl There's no rule. The only rules are the ones that the Minnesota But the Minnesota Association is allow-

Association has come up with. SAUCEDO: SANCHEZ: When you say the U.S.S.F., what are you refering to? The United States Soccer Federation. The United States Soccer

Federation has no ruling to limit players, regardless of who they are, what creed, or where they come from. SAUCEDO: SANCHEZ: And yet Minnesota imposes this restriction on you? Yes, they have. They have limited me to two players. I cannot

have more than two guest players per year. SAUCEDO: SANCHEZ: Have you written to the United States Soccer Federation?

have wtitten to the United States Soccer Federation asking them

if it is legal for the Minnesota Soccer Association to limit me to two players. There is no ruling whatsoever to limit the players

from another country. SAUCEDO: Mr. Sanchez, one of the reasons soccer has grown in popularity in Minnesota is because of excellent coaches and referees like yourself. ThanR you for this interview and we wish you ahtremendous

amount of luck and continued

with the boys you may be coacming

in the future, as well as luck in your struggle for fairness intthe sport of soccer.