Despite being removed from his position as regional commissioner for the Douglas AYSO, Chuey Duarte has said he would like to remain involved in AYSO.
On Thursday, Nov. 21, Tom Simons, the AYSO sectional director and Melissa Baray, the director for this area, were in Douglas hoping to meet with Duarte, who has served as the Douglas AYSO regional commissioner since 2011-12.
Chuey was not in Douglas at the time, so Simons and Baray, instead, dropped off a letter at the Duarte home with Chuey’s son. The letter informed Duarte he was being removed as Douglas’ regional commissioner.
Less than a week after being notified, Chuey sat down with the Douglas Dispatch to address his removal.
“This really surprised me, kind of like a punch to the gut” he said. “I had talked with Melissa and she said your doing this stuff until Nov. 30 and then we’ll get together, we’ll talk and see where it’s going to go from there. It caught me off guard. I’m surprised.”
Duarte said he had no idea Simons and Baray were coming to Douglas the day they did and in fact, he was out of state. He stated, it’s also his understanding AYSO has guidelines as to how things, like what’s happening to him, should be handled.
“It feels like due-process is out the window,” he said. “It looks like I’ve already been judged on whatever is going to happen with them removing me as regional commissioner.”
Duarte first got involved in AYSO in 2004 as a coach. Greg Abrigo was the regional commissioner at that time.
“I had always been a baseball person and didn’t know much about soccer other than you kick the ball and you can’t pick it up with your hands,” he said. “I started my daughter Carley’s team. The kids liked it. They’re more involved with it. I think it’s a good way for the kids to run around. It keeps them active. The ball seems to find them.”
A few years later Duarte took over as the commissioner for the Douglas AYSO.
“Since I took over as regional commissioner, one of the first changes that I did was make it that no kid plays four quarters until every kid plays three,” Chuey said. “Each kid on the team plays three-fourths of the game.”
“I’ve always done this for the good of the kids,” he added. “I enjoy being out there. The first couple of years after I started, we tried doing a spring season. I took some criticism from the Douglas community as being the person that ruined Little League baseball because I was going to be taking away some of their kids. We tried it out for two seasons, the numbers just weren’t there. We just didn’t get the commitment we needed so we dropped it.”
There have been some allegations the local AYSO was struggling financially, which Duarte addressed.
“I dispute that,” he said. “I saw that they came and closed the (league) account. I got the final statement. The last I checked, there was over $10,000 in the account.”
Chuey said he is aware people feel the registration fees the AYSO is charging are high but adds, they are less than what many of the other regions are charging.
“We were charging $82 of that, right off the top $20 goes to AYSO for their insurance,” he said. “This year, it bit us in the butt. We tried to buy little cheaper uniforms. We got most of the kids outfitted. We always struggle with some late stragglers, some uniforms get ordered late and the vendor who had assured us he would get us those uniforms on time, never delivered the second part of the uniforms. We ended up having some kids playing without uniforms. All the money that comes in, goes back out. The money we make, is the money we make due with. We’re also not having the kids sell tickets for raffles or carne asadas. Once they pay that fee, their whole season is covered.”
The Douglas AYSO season is 10 weeks which includes nine regular season games and one week for the tournament.
“Once you take out the cost of the uniform, the cost of the trophies and the $20 fee, your looking at about $30 per kid for 10 weeks which comes out to $3 a week for them to be physically active. I think they’re getting a good return on their investment,” he said.
Duarte is aware he had been the target of criticism from various people in the community.
“I was out there at 7 a.m. every Saturday, getting the fields ready, unpaid and being there until the last game finishes around 4 p.m. and then cleaned up and put away equipment, I say to them, come out and do it and help out,” he said. “During the week I’m also coaching a team. I’m out there, but there’s always questions from people like when a kid gets hurt. The criticism is going to come and go. I know what I’ve done. I know why I’ve done it. I have the support of my family.”
Duarte had closing ceremonies scheduled for right after the tournament games were played on Nov. 24. He said Simons and Baray had changed the date to Dec. 7.
“It was wrong for them to do that to the kids,” he said. “They should have been held right after the tournament games were over.”
Chuey was also ridiculed for not having a board, which, he says, is not true.
“I have an email that I sent to Melissa on Sept. 4,” he said. “I put in there a copy of our minutes where we had a meeting in July at the Government Center and a board was elected. This came about because I was told I had to have a board in place. She has a copy of that email. They never told me anything against it.”
On that board was Duarte, Lisa Escalante, Terry Vera, Eric and Deanna Quijada, Hugo Tovar, Manuel Rivera and Lavone Morales.
“Those were the people that were voted in at the July meeting,” he said.
Duarte said even though he is no longer involved in AYSO, he still would like to stay involved in soccer.
“I enjoy being out there with my kids,” he said. “I continue to do this for the kids. I enjoy being out there with them and would very much like to remain involved with AYSO.”