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Boston boys club soccer team heads to national tournament after undefeated season

BOSTON — A Boston boys club soccer team is heading to a national tournament in Colorado this month, making the 15-year-olds the first inner-city club team from Boston to qualify, the team says.

Valeo FC 2007 won the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship last week in New Jersey, qualifying for the U.S. Club Soccer national championship, Premier U-15 Division, in Commerce City, Colo.

The team, hailing from several neighborhoods of Boston and surrounding cities, had an undefeated season.

“They are my kids. With pride and joy, I can say that. Every single one of them,” coach Tony Cardoso said of his young players. “We’ve been dreaming of this for a long time, and finally it’s coming to reality.”

The players come from various backgrounds; some of the families are from Cape Verde, Honduras, Iran, Haiti, Ireland, Djibouti and Vietnam. Speaking different languages and sharing different experiences, soccer unites them like family.

“It builds a lot of chemistry on the team,” said goalkeeper Emilio Moriarty during the team’s Tuesday practice in Dorchester. “Just having that brotherhood in the community, on the field and off.”

The team doesn’t have a dedicated home field or fancy facilities, they say, but they believe they work harder than anyone.

“A lot of hard work was put into the season,” said player Dylan Fernandes who hopes to earn a soccer scholarship for college. “My family is excited to go [to nationals]. I’m honestly happy. Hopefully scouts are there. I’m hoping to impress.”

As the team practices, they are also fundraising for the big trip through a GoFundMe account.

“Some of these kids here, their families work two jobs, and they can’t afford to pay for their trip to go there,” Cardoso said. “And we’re trying to fundraise so that everybody makes it there and feels comfortable while we’re there.”

By Tuesday night, supporters had raised more than $25,000 to cover airfare, hotels and tournament fees, among other expenses.

“It means, like, a lot, because a lot of people are willing to make this trip happen,” said Edisson Claimond, who aspires to play professional soccer. “We’re trying to go out there, perform and win the championship and come back with a trophy.”

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