TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) From the dusty soccer pitch, 11-year-old Maynor Ayala can see two ways out of the gang-controlled slums: on a professional soccer team, or in a cheap coffin.Maynor is euphoric after scoring a goal for the first time in weeks, and he briefly allows himself to imagine going to the World Cup one day.But then his boyish smile fades into hard talk. ”My cousin was shot here on the field,” Maynor says, miming a pistol with his thumb and index finger.”Remember the taxi driver they executed here a while ago?” asks his 14-year-old friend, Marvin Cruz.”We also went to see a body cut in pieces over there by the bridge,” Maynor adds.Their coach listens with despair. Luis Lopez, 45, who uses a wheelchair because of a bicycle accident over a decade ago, is working the kids hard, hoping the discipline of sport will keep them out of the gangs that dominate much of Tegucigalpa. His threadbare soccer program is modest compared to the challenges these children face: the pull of the streets, violence, poverty and drugs. But as for slum children from Brazil to Botswana, the game is also a lifeline.Maynor, Marvin and others on the pitch give… Read full this story
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