by Liliana Marquez
Hector Aguilar left his home country Honduras hoping to reunite with his mother after 20 years of being apart. This decision brought him closer to his biggest passion, his dream of becoming a professional soccer player.
Aguilar, 23, lived a tough life back in his home country. He grew up with four siblings and their grandmother from his mother’s side, who he considers his second mother.
Unlike most kids, Aguilar never knew his father. He grew up without a father figure to answer his questions about life and to guide him, but that never stopped him from fighting for his dreams.
Everything changed for him a year ago when his mother Elena asked him to come live with her in Los Angeles. She has been living here for more than 20 years and Aguilar accepted the offer because he wanted to be closer to his mother.
“I decided to come to the United States because I wanted to have a better life. I enrolled in college because I was lucky to finish high school back in my country, but it was tough. The economy and family problems are the reasons why I am here today,” Aguilar said in Spanish.
His first year with his mother has been tough for him. The last time Aguilar saw her, he was only 3-years-old. According to Aguilar, even though he and his mother clash, he hopes that within time their relationship will grow. Aguilar is now part of the East Los Angeles College men’s soccer team, where he plays forward.
“For me, soccer is amazing. I love to win and I feel great when I play. It is my passion, and becoming part of the ELAC team has been a blessing and the best thing that has happened to me,” Aguilar said.
While he was in high school back in Honduras, Aguilar worked in order to keep studying to graduate.
According to Aguilar, the decision to play soccer was inspired by the example his grandfather provided in his life.
“I decided to play soccer after my grandfather passed away. I was 15 years old and some of my friends started doing bad stuff. (They) were going on the wrong path. I didn’t want that for myself.
“Maybe he didn’t have a perfect life, but he always tried to give us everything. So, I wanted to follow his example,” Aguilar said.
The first thing Aguilar did once he got to Los Angeles was to get a soccer ball to play in the street. It wasn’t until he tried to socialize when he realized that the language barrier was going to be a problem.
“English has been a huge obstacle for me, but I’ve started to move forward. I have learned a lot of things and my teammates have helped me a lot,” Aguilar said.
Once he became part of the ELAC soccer team, Aguilar found friendship and support from his teammates and coaches.
For Head Coach Eddie Flores, Aguilar is a very talented player who could really help the team.
Assistant Coach Melvin Rubio said that Aguilar is a great player with a great work ethic, but he also believes that there are some areas in which Aguilar needs to improve.
“He listens and pushes himself during practice. I believe his greatest strength is his physical ability. He is very strong and fast, but lacks the ability to read the game and make effective runs,” Rubio said.
Rubio also said that what caught his attention when he saw Aguilar playing for the first time, was his humility.
“When you correct him, he is listening and makes an effort to fix his errors. (He) appreciates it because he cares to make himself a better player,” Rubio said.
Teammates and friends Billy Campos and Mario Mayen said that as a teammate, Aguilar can be defined as humble and caring. For them, he is always trying to help and motivate the team.
“One thing I learned about him is that no matter how big a problem or emergency can be, you will always have a friend to listen to you and to help you get through it,” Mayen said.
Campos also shared how both him and Mayen became friends with Aguilar.
“Mario (Mayen) would take us home after practice. One day, Hector (Aguilar) was part of the group and he invited us to eat. We watched a soccer game between the United States and the Honduras national teams. I remember this day because we had a great bonding moment.
“I hardly speak Spanish, but I got to meet him that day. I talked to him and learned where he was from. As the time passed, we made our little group, especially during the rides filled with laughs and music,” Campos said.
Before coming to ELAC, Aguilar spent over four months at Evans Community Adult School and his time there was difficult because of the language barrier.
“Spending some time at Evans helped me understand this country a little more. I woke up at 6 a.m. every morning and I was at school until 2 p.m. No one spoke Spanish, just English and Chinese. It was very difficult for me. I cried some times because I wanted to talk to people, but I couldn’t and didn’t know how,” Aguilar said.
Aguilar has always liked challenges, but he said that when his mom went to work and he was left alone at home, he wanted to go back to Honduras.
“My mom used to tell me to go out. She gave me the Tap Card for the buses, but I didn’t know the city. I was afraid of getting lost, so I used to just sit down and watch TV the whole day, just waiting for her to come back so we could talk,” Aguilar said.
Like all the people who come to this country looking for a better life, leaving their loved ones behind, Aguilar misses his friends and family, but above all, he misses his grandmother.
When Aguilar talks about his grandmother, his expression changes and his eyes fill with tears. Both because he misses her and because he feels proud of her. He said that she has been his inspiration in life.
“My grandmother is my inspiration. She is a strong woman who had 14 children and never left their side. I don’t like to talk about her a lot because it makes me sad,” Aguilar said.
Another thing that Aguilar considers to be his passion is music.
During his free time he likes to play the guitar, write songs and dance. He is currently writing a song about the soccer team.
His life in this country might just have started, but Aguilar is confident about what he wants to accomplish. He wants to become a professional soccer player and graduate from college.
In 10 years, Aguilar sees himself graduated, married with children and playing as a professional. He would love to play for Real España, Los Angeles Galaxy or Houston Dynamo.
He also hopes to get a chance to meet his father. He said that he has no hard feelings for him and that he wants to get to know him in the future.
When the team practices, Aguilar enjoys every minute playing along with his teammates. Despite the hard times, he is now moving forward toward his goals, never forgetting about the sacrifices he made and the people he left back in his home country.