OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – The Oakland Roots Soccer Club has found a way to both embrace their heritage and put down new “roots” to start a legacy.
They do so by showcasing the sport’s ability to bring cultures together and celebrating the city they call home. The Roots have fans all across the Bay Area, and players say many times it’s the Hispanic heritage and Spanish language that connects them more than anything.
The Hispanic population in Oakland accounts for about 27% of the city, according to the U.S. Census. Roots player and Ecuador native Jeciel Cedeño says it’s a population that feels like home, especially on game day.
“You have Mexicans, Colombians, Ecuadorians, Hondurans. And it’s very nice to see all these people going to the stadium, and you can feel the support,” he said.
The Oakland Roots have been getting that support since 2018 when the team was built with the purpose of uniting, inspiring and bringing hope to the Oakland community. Cedeño says for the Hispanic community, those are necessary, especially for those who are first-generation.
“Living in Ecuador, you’re found in different situations where you don’t have the best of everything, but you can make the best out of every single thing,” he said.
Oakland Roots head coach Noah Delgado, who is from Fremont, says having this professional team in Oakland is a game-changer for Hispanics – especially for Hispanic kids.
“What the club does and represents helps to motivate some of the young kids in in the community that see people like them playing professional soccer,” he said.
The love for soccer — or “futbol” as it’s said in Spanish – is endless for many Hispanics. The Oakland Roots provide that sense of home for them.
When it comes to the kids, Cedeño says every game he can see the hope in their eyes.
“That’s why when they asked me for my autograph, I’d rather stay, give it to every kid, because I know what it means to them. Because I was the kid once,” he said.
Right now the team is working to try and build a facility next to the Oakland Coliseum. It hopes to bring an even larger fanbase, connecting people of all backgrounds and giving those with Hispanic heritage a small sense of home.