Efrain Aguilar would rather play soccer than eat—but even he has to eat to play soccer.
"I love to play," Aquilar said. "I'd rather play soccer than eat, that's how much I like it. That happens to a lot of people who like it."
A defender on his El Cobamo team in Orangetown men's adult league, Aguilar is a congregant at St. John the Baptist Church in Piermont.
"That's how I met Sister Cecilia," he explained. "She's a wonderful person."
And that's one reason why Aguilar engineered an all-day benefit soccer tournament last year. This year's second edition—with play starting about 9 a.m. on two fields at Albertus Magnus HS in Bardonia on Sept. 12—is expected to have a field of at least 12 teams (or 14 , or more).
"Last year we had eight teams," Aguilar said.
The tournament raises funds for Sr. Cecilia's One to One Learning program, which helps teach English to Spanish-speaking people.
"We raise money from [selling] refreshments," Aguilar said. "That's the whole point of this. Last year we had more than 200 people—with one sponsor. We're still looking for a sponsor this year."
El Cobamo, named for Aquilar's village in his native El Salvador, has been playing three years in Orangeburg and is a strong favorite in the round-robin play. Aquilar, an alumnus of Sr. Celia's program and a cook at Northvale Diner in New Jersey, said most of the teams in the tournament will be from the men's adult league.
For one day at least, Aquilar and his colleagues will have another chance to play soccer—and eat.
"There will be delicious food," promised Sr. Celia. "Well, why not? The people making it are my students. They run it to help us."
For information on entering a team in the tournament or becoming a sponsor, please contact Aquilar at (845) 893-0756.