Interview with Raul Macias: Anahuak Youth Soccer Association

Young Voices is a series of interviews conducted by Occidental College students, assisted by the Keck Grant, for Professor Jan Lin's Urban Sociology course. Each interview highlights an individual who has made an impact in their communities.


Raul Macías, a successful businessman who came from Mexico 30 years ago, started the non-profit Anahuak Youth Soccer Association ten years ago in northeast Los Angeles to improve academics, health, and leadership through physical activity and places to play. Anahuak helped create the Rio de Los Angeles State Park at Taylor Yard, which opened on Earth Day 2007.

As Macías told KTLA news, Anahuak is not about making soccer players, but making good citizens. Macías started Anahuak after neighborhood children asked him to donate $30 for referees and expenses. He agreed if the youths would tell him the results of each game. Macías eventually took over coaching: "They kept losing, week after week. They needed somebody to push them to do things right, to show them how to be winners."


Can you describe Anahuak's reputation?

Anahuak's reputation is that it is a non-profit organization that uses the sport of soccer to benefit the community by helping create respectable youth.

What is the difference between Anahuak and other soccer organizations?

The difference is that we are more focused on creating citizens rather than athletes. This means that much of the instruction in Anahuak is to help our families and youth understand coalition building. We do this by influencing them to help out in the community. Also, through working with other organizations to create new opportunities for youth.

What inspired you to do this? I read about kids asking you for money to help supply referees -- but why did you take the initiative to create this organization?

The truth is that I was desperate. I witnessed a lot of crime and shootings in this area [Highland Park] because gangs had a lot of fame back in the day. You could not get from one neighborhood to the other without running into problems. It was completely segregated by territory. Everyone would talk about it being bad but no one would do anything. So I took the initiative and realized the best way to get kids off the streets was through soccer. After a couple of years I unconsciously realized that the formula for decreasing crime among youth was providing them with a safe location, where they could be kids. Having a safe location for kids to be able to play, that is ultimately the difference maker.

Who inspired you to do this type of work?

My inspiration comes from people that did this for me when I was young. A man named Santana taught me that I had to use my time to do something enjoyable while helping others. He organized a group of about twenty of us and would have us play soccer one day, and do school work the following day. He did this for a couple of years out of the goodness of his heart and you could see the impact he had on our lives. Not a single person from our group got into big problems, joined gangs, or was ever arrested growing up; the same cannot be said about the people that were not part of our group.

This man made a difference in my life because he cared selflessly for me, and I think when people do something for others unselfishly it makes a difference. That is what I am trying to do now; it is like a chain of gratitude.

How has Anahuak developed and grown over the past few years?

It has increased rapidly and in a short span of time. When I first started this we had twenty children, then we grew over the years to around five hundred. Today we average around twenty three hundred youth every year. It has a fast growth, which is good because it gives us an opportunity to impact more youth. But at the same time it can be very stressful because we never say no to any child regardless of whether they can pay to participate. We believe it is a right for youth to play, and an obligation for parents and grown ups to make that possible.

Do you believe social media is important for your organization?

It's very important! Social media allows for information to travel much faster than going door by door. I think this has been one of the biggest factors that has contributed to the rapid growth of Anahuak.

Photo by The City Project, Creative CommonsHow do you guys influence younger generations?

We offer an organized way to learn rules, discipline and habit. We do this by having good coaches who care about their players. On the soccer field there are many circumstances that translate into life. For example, when things do not go your way on the field and emotions start flaring, you receive a teaching of how to control your anger via a yellow card. This creates discipline that creates composure for tough situations. It also teaches you to work as a team; not everything you do in life is going to be on your own. This is a fundamental base for how society works, and I think all team sports teach you good discipline, teamwork, and a habit of giving your best.

What types of problems do you typically run into when working with a younger generation?

Issues typically include the way some youth dress, especially when they are going through their rebellious stage. The way we handle that is we let them know they have to dress presentable to give the team a good image. Another value we are trying to restore is boys respecting their elders. A lot of youth have little or no respect for the elderly because no one has taught them. We try to teach them gradually, and not just how but why they should demonstrate respect.

What is your impression of the local scene over the past few years?

My impression is that the local scene has improved greatly over the last few years, and we along with other groups have made a difference. We can see this in the decreased juvenile criminal activity in Highland Park. We have more schools, because we as a community have asked for more schools. When the community wants something we get together and fight for what we deserve. Anahuak and other organizations have made a great difference in Northeast Los Angeles, one of the most progressive areas in the county of Los Angeles.

With what other organizations or people do you collaborate?

We collaborate with City Councilors like Eric Garcetti, Ed Reyes, Jose Huizar, and Tom LaBonge. We have close relations with Heal the Bay, Sierra Club, Tree People, Faller, and The City Project. Also with Robert Garcia, the governor of Anahuak. We are affiliated with Cal South (California State Soccer Association-South) and West Soccer Federation. We are part of the Mexican Federations in COFEN. We work with various consulates in Mexico and are an integral part of the Consulate of Highland Park. We have extensive programs with the Santa Monica Mountains and with the San Gabriel Mountains.

Do you believe you represent the local culture?

Definitely. This is a pro-athlete and pro-youth culture. In sports a youth feels the freedom to make individual decisions. A young man carrying the ball is responsible for continuing the game. The decisions to pass, keep the ball or kick the ball are his to make, and often their decisions are right ones to make. This helps build good character and great decision-making in the classroom, and later on in life and in their careers. We ultimately represent the culture of the young.

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When you first get to Anahuak you feel welcomed, then you feel like your part of something bigger then you could have ever imagined. After a while you start seeing how things really work, It's a sweat shop! Raul was a successful business man and knew how to get people to work more then they had to with out pay. The only difference between his company and ANAHUAK the sweat shop is that at ANAHUAK the sweat shop didn't have to actually pay everyone. Yes it is true when Anahuak the sweat shop first started it was about the kids but then it became about all the money you can take without anyone finding out. Don't forget to thank those who fought for Rio De Los Angeles State Park from the start not at the end with benefits. Have you seen Anahuaks tax forms on the internet, funny how they claim no cash money but do claim close to half a million dollars in sponsorships. It only take $284,000 dollars to run ANAHUAK, That includes employees, field permits, office, bills, supplies and trophies. The rest of the money not accounted for is money that is to pay the referee, every players registration fee and uniforms for all the teams. Here's the scam if your paying attention, after a while Raul found out that it was easy to trick the coaches into believing he was keeping a close eye on the referees. He asked them to start making their referee fees cash at the office along with any comment, report on a referee or opposing coaches. One of the grants is to pay for the referees but Raul still charges cash money at the office for the same thing. Every August 1st Every player has to pay registration fees again at $45.00 per player when cal-south only charges $22.50 per player. What happens to the other $22.50 per player? By the way Raul also gets a grant to pay for the players registration. The rest of the money goes to pay for the uniforms for all the teams at ANAHUAK but that has never happen. If you ask Score and Soccer Store if Raul has ever payed for uniforms they will tell you the coaches pay but Raul has a special account with these two uniform stores that gives coaches a small discount, one more thing, the deal Raul has with the stores is that in order to get the discount the coaches have to use the ANAHUAK account along with a receipt which has ANAHUAK'S info on it and returned and mailed to the ANAHUAK office. Yes, Raul also gets a grant for uniforms. What happens to all that tax payer money? You should start asking Raul Macias real Questions. Don't forget to ask him why he close guards the by-laws and has never showed them to his coaches even after they have asked to see them. Also ask him why Francisco ( PACO ) Serrano gets payed over $50,000 cash and is not found on the tax forms. Why is Francisco ( PACO ) Serrano's wife the TREASURER and also gets paid over $25,000 cash per year these are the real questions someone has to ask. Ask him how he stole the wife of one of his biggest supporters and original coaches who was there fighting along side of Raul Macias the self proclaimed "DON"... The IRS needs to take a walk through ANAHUAK and find the Mexican bank accounts. The children who play at ANAHUAK are being used!

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http://anahuak-youth-soccer-association.idilogic.aidpage.com/anahuak-youth-soccer-association This is were you will find all the information about Anahuaks tax information. You will notice that on the last taxes filled the treasure is also the Secretary. If you look carefully you will see that the new Vice President is the person who takes the kids to Mexico every summer an lets them drink because according to him the drinking age limit is younger in Mexico but am sure those kids parents didn't sign them to get drunk with a drunk. Everyone knows that in every and any organization or group one person can not have 2 executive board member seats like at Anahuak youth soccer association and just in case you are curious who this woman is who is treasure and Secretary at the exact same time, she is the person who you first meet when you walk into the Anahuak office and that's who we all give our CASH money to!! Mrs. Lourdes Reyes is also an expert on doing taxes she does the taxes of the majority of the people at anahuak youth soccer association perfect person to cover up a lot of money disappearing. Alberto Roman Navarrete the drunk, was not Vice President that year he was not even elected he was appointed by Raul Macias just a few months ago. There are no elections at Anahuak. So the next question should be how is it that these people get to cheat on there taxes. That's right they are backed up on there taxes a few years and it gives them plenty of time to come up with a story to cover it up!