By Asma Khalid
A gang taskforce officer in Northern Virginia is trying to get teens out of gangs, off the streets, and onto the soccer field.
Tito Vilchez is a native Arlingtonian. He grew up in Section 8 housing. He says it was rough, but soccer kept him out of trouble.
"Every weekend or every month I looked forward to the games and that increased my self-esteem, even though I was approached by drug dealers, I was approached to commit crimes," says Vilchez.
Now, Vilchez works with Arlington County. And he’s creating a series of soccer tournaments for teens either in gangs or at risk of joining a gang.
Vilchez is coaching Eduardo Cordova here at the Northern Virginia Family Services soccer tournament. Cordova says soccer keeps him busy.
"It keeps you out of trouble, we can say. Cause instead of being in the streets, you’re in the field, playing soccer. Cause that’s all I do, after school – do homework, play soccer. That’s basically my life," says Cordova.
Cordova's team wins first place. That's a stepping stone. Vilchez wants to make sure these teens succeed off the field as well.