Author Topic: Now you can kick back with George and Rich  (Read 870 times)

Offline David

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Now you can kick back with George and Rich
« on: March 12, 2007, 10:03:46 AM »
So you want to be a big-shot owner of a sports team? Does Christina Burke have a deal for you.

You could be Mark Cuban and hobnob with players. You could sit in the Rich DeVos seats. You could put your name on the team, which not even George Steinbrenner can do.

The only problem is you'll have to go to Nicaragua to get the royal treatment. Well, there is one other hitch.

You'd be owning a women's soccer team, so your American neighbors might not be all that impressed. At least until you explain what else you'll be getting with your investment.

Primarily, more gratitude than money can buy.

"The games are the only diversion these women have," Burke said.

If any women need a diversion, it's the ones in Corinto, Nicaragua. It's a port town of about 20,000 people on the Pacific coast. Burke, 27, showed up there a couple of years ago on the kind of crazy whim we should all be guilty of.

"I wanted to make a difference in someone's life," she said.

She'd been a photographer at the Daytona Beach News-Journal. As vital as newspapers are to the world, she wanted to do more.

Burke joined the Peace Corps and became a health counselor in Corinto. More than half the deaths of children under four in Nicaragua are caused by preventable illnesses like diarrhea and pneumonia. That happens when the per capita income is $430 a year.

Burke was hardly shocked to find things were tough in the schools and barrios. She was surprised to find something that helps besides money and medicine.

The girls and younger women of Corinto had started playing soccer. To truly appreciate that, you have to appreciate Latin culture.

"A woman's role here is in the house, to cook, to clean, to do everything," Burke said. "It's a very machista society."

Machista as in male-dominated. It's not Afghanistan under the Taliban, where women would be stoned for wearing soccer shorts. But let's just say there is no Title IX in Nicaragua.

Enough girls play soccer to field four teams. It's not exactly Major League Soccer. You'll never see David Beckham nursing a baby at halftime then getting back into the game.

America long ago learned how sports help build self-esteem and aspirations. What works in 20,000-seat arenas during the NCAA women's basketball tournament can also happen on Nicaraguan streets.

"It's the only chance they have to be with other women and talk about the things they face," Burke said.

Women's sports may still have a ways to go in the U.S., but at least they don't have to get there in an old Ford F-150 pickup. Burke piles about 16 people into one to get them to games. The town's mayor pays for gas.

The girls of Corinto could use old cleats or shin guards or soccer balls. If you're interested, e-mail Burke at

One of the town's few wealthy citizens owns some boats. He bought a team and named it "Sailing." Your big-shot dreams of being an owner can come true.

The price: a mere $300.

You could buy 663,333 of them for the value of the Magic ($199 million value according to Forbes).

The F-150 isn't quite as nice as the Magic's charter. But you'll never be vilified for not building your own soccer stadium.

And best of all, the players would adore you for more than your money.

For $300, that's something the Steinbrenners of the world will never be able to buy.,0,7352795.column?coll=orl-sports-headlines