With no budget, all-refugee Arizona soccer club gives players chance to live their big league dreams

With no budget, an all refugee soccer club in Glendale is getting a chance to play with the big dogs

Playing any sport during summertime in Arizona takes a lot of mental dedication.
 
With not budget at all, an all refugee soccer club in Glendale is getting a chance to play with the big dogs.
 
The soccer club Maricopa Mulenge FC has partnered with the organization Sporting AZ FC.
 
Not only does Sporting AZ FC provide uniforms to the team, but also helps the players be seen by professional coaches.
 
"U.S. Soccer comes into Arizona quite frequently and does its coach licensing courses and one of the things I do is a provide all the players to the coaches," said FC Tim Marchisotto, the general manager of Maricopa Mulenge.
 
Not only to the players get exposed to professional coaches, but to scholarship opportunities as well.
 
"I've started a program where I follow or go to the schools and ask how my players are doing, if they are getting better grades, they get to play, if you are getting F's and D's you don't get to play," said head coach Billy Gipagna.
 
Billy came to Arizona as a refugee from the Democratic of the Congo five years ago and decided to take the lead for the Maricopa Mulenge soccer club.
 
He says soccer is the most popular sport in the Congo.
 
"Coming here, that was the first sport that we say was going to put us together and have everyone come together as a group," said Billy.
 
The team has about 50 players comprised of refugees from east Africa.
 
For several years now, Phoenix has been a host to a number of refugees and people like Billy are leading by example.
 
"We help educate the kids about college, about earning both academic and athletic scholarships, we put them in front of the coaches," said GM Tim Marchisotto.
 
Already, two players from Maricopa Mulenge FC have been offered scholarships and others play with Sporting AZ FC's UPSL (United Premier Soccer League).
 
"What we hope is to continue to expand and be inclusive of all different nationalities, it's not just for refugees,” Marchisotto said.
 
Marchisotto has been guiding the team for over a year and says the team has made it this far on their own.
 

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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