Juarez football team’s triumph over tragedy
inspires donation of new equipment
by Angela Kocherga / 11 News
Posted on January 22, 2014 at 6:32 PM
Ciudad Juarez — The Jaguares football team’s triumph over tragedy inspired a U.S. evangelist and his GO TELL Ministries to donate brand-new equipment for players who currently wear patched-together hand-me-downs.
“This is a big blessing,” said Lupita Davila, a parent whose son played on the team.
“We dreamed of this, and now finally it’s happened,” said Davila, smiling at the shoulder pads in one of the boxes of equipment donated by the Rev. Rick Gage and what he calls “friends” of GO TELL Ministries.
“God bless him always,” said Adrian Cadena who, along with his wife Lupita, are the team’s biggest boosters. Their son Rodrigo was among 13 people gunned down by gang members who attacked a birthday party attended by student athletes.
The Jaguares’ quarterback Juan Carlos Medrano also died that same night from gunshot wounds.
Investigators say the gunmen mistakenly targeted guests because they thought rival gang members had organized the party.
Holding up a pair of new cleats, the team’s coach Fernando Gallegos said, “These are the true weapons our young people in Mexico need.”
Gallegos and his son Pedro coach the players in a working-class neighborhood and won their state championship last year.
They practice on a soccer field and wear hand-me-down equipment, including battered, old helmets.
“This is for the quarterback,” said Gallegos, smiling as he held up a brand-new pair of shoulder pads.
Raul Parra, now the team’s quarterback, survived the birthday party massacre. He drove two players to the hospital – even though he had been shot in the leg.
“For another championship,” said Coach Gallegos.
The ragtag team that had survived heartbreaking losses off the field inspired Gage.
“The needs in Juarez are enormous,” said Gage by phone who was on the road preaching in Paris, Texas.
“As a former football coach it just made sense. It just felt right.”
For now, a church in El Paso is storing the boxes of new equipment and uniforms while the team works to get the items through Mexican customs and across the border.
They hope to have the gear in time for a big exhibition game in Juarez on Super Bowl weekend.
But in the meantime, Davila used her cell phone to snap photos of the boxes full of shoulder pads, cleats and brand-new team jerseys, so the players could see the equipment.
“They’re not going to believe it,” Davil said.