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Cape Coral Arsenal FC soccer clubs raising funds for trip to Spain

November 22, 2019
By CJ HADDAD ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

A trip of a lifetime only comes, well, once in a lifetime, and a group of young Cape Coral soccer players have the chance to have that experience next year.

The Cape Coral Arsenal FC, thanks to its hard work and skill on the soccer pitch, has been given the opportunity to travel to Barcelona, Spain, next year to compete in a tournament, tour the third largest soccer stadium in the world, Camp Nou -- home to FC Barcelona -- and partake in a training session with former Barcelona players. The trip is all-expenses paid, except the airfare.

Cape Coral Arsenal FC is looking to send its U15 and U12 clubs to one of the most historic sites and arenas of football. This six-night, seven-day trip is a soccer fan's dream, regardless of age, and was earned thanks to the team's Soccer Skills Unlimited Tournament Championship.

Article Photos

Members of Cape Coral Arsenal FC, who will have the chance to visit Barcelona, Spain, for a week of soccer activities and to see the historic Camp Nou stadium in June. 

"It's once in a lifetime," said Gerson Molina, director and head coach of Cape Coral Arsenal FC. "They get training, they get to compete in a tournament, it's a whole week to be with their friends, enjoying the game they love."

Molina, who also is an assistant coach at Trafalgar Middle School, said Cape Coral Arsenal FC is all about the young men and the love of the game. A trip like this is something they'll never forget.

"It's to help the boys," Molina said of his group and why he hopes the community will show its support in helping them get to Barcelona. "They've fought so hard to do this. It's something they've been working for, and it'd be nice to show them that hard work does pay off."

Gerson's group certainly has been working hard, as the team is already near the top 30 in the state of Florida, although it's been in existence for only three years.

The group travels from coast to coast, north and south, to compete against the top youth clubs the Sunshine State has to offer.

In addition to the Soccer Skills Unlimited title, the club has claimed championships in the Florida Dimitri Cup, Georgia Dimitri Cup and the 2017 Disney 3v3 Gold Division title.

"It's a great feeling to see all of the work they've put in, and for them to show it on the field against teams that are that strong," Molina said. "To come out as champs, and to say, 'Hey, you won this,' is a great feeling."

Three players on the club: Juan Buenrostro, 14; Victor Blanco, 15; and Ivan Santolopez, 14, said the chance to go to Barcelona would be an unbelievable achievement, as all three realize the magnitude of getting the chance to step foot on the historic Camp Nau stadium and learn from some of the most keen soccer minds in the world.

"It feels exciting to be able to go to Barcelona," Buenrostro said. "I'm just stunned that we have the chance."

Blanco agreed.

"I think it's a big opportunity that we have," Blanco said. "Honestly, as teen-agers, we can say in the future that we went there as kids. It will be a fun experience and I think we deserve to be there."

Santolopez said he's looking forward to growing as a person and as an athlete on the trip.

"I'm looking forward to being able to train with the coaches, to be able to learn more," Santolopez said. "We can become better people for ourselves. It's going to be a privilege for us."

All three young men look up to international soccer star Lionel Messi, who has been a mainstay in Barcelona since 2004. Getting a chance to walk onto the same pitch as Messi, and countless other soccer greats, is something they've dreamed about.

"We're just happy to have the opportunity to go on this trip, and what a privilege it is to be a part of this team," Buenrostro said.

Each has enjoyed his time playing under coach Molina.

"You meet new people, you learn new play styles and look at us now, we're going to Barcelona," Blanco said.

One of Molina's goals is to coach up the youth of the next generation of soccer players in the United States, where soccer is slowly but surely making its way into the mainstream.

"The goal is to get them to continue to play the game of soccer and getting more kids involved in the game here in the United States," he said. "USA soccer is evolving, and I want to do my part in helping."

The club needs to raise around $2,000 to pay for airfare for the two teams, as well as coaches and chaperones to make this trip of a lifetime a reality.

Molina said a reason he even started Cape Coral Arsenal FC is to help those kids in lower income households, who can't afford to be a part of a "bigger club," get the chance to play.

"You know, it's a lower income group," Molina said. "We're not here like a business-type of club. We just put together what we can, and let them play soccer. It's for the love of the game."

He said anything the community is wiling to donate will be greatly appreciated.

"It's for them," Molina said. "It's something that, when they're 19-20 years old, they're still going to say, 'Hey, remember that time we went to Barcelona with our team.' It's something that, for me, would have been once in a lifetime. Help out the kids."

Cape Coral Arsenal FC is also made possible thanks to coach Paul Mendonca and team manager Michelle Russo.

Those who are interested in donating to the club to make the trip possible can do so via its Facebook page, by searching Cape Coral Arsenal FC, or on its GoFundMe page at

For more on Cape Coral Arsenal FC, visit

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj



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