Photos by Noé Montes


The Story Behind the Myth

It is easy to spot Don Raúl Macias in the middle of the crowd: just look for his beret. If that doesn’t work, follow the sounds of the hundreds of children and teens that Anahuak Youth Sports Association trains weekly in parks throughout Northeast Los Angeles.

His most recent position as Director of Anahuak, a post that he has held for more than three decades, is arguably the job that has brought him the most joy. Starting in his hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico, where he learned “to make markers, to cut, and to sew” to later as the owner of a women’s clothing factory in Cypress Park, Don Raúl has had many jobs and many mentors throughout his life. Mentors who have taught him the necessary skills to solve the obstacles that life throws at you.

And thus Anahuak was born, as a solution to one of the problems that plagued the community of Cypress Park.

“This was a very problematic neighborhood, full of gangs, drug trafficking—and that was some of the issues that pushed me to do something for young people so that they would not follow that path, they had no other option than to join a gang to become someone.”

That’s why, when he heard that “the children of [his] employees wanted a space where they could have room to enjoy [the outdoors],” Don Raúl wasted no time in finding a solution to this problem. Starting with the children of his employees, and then with their family members, and finally opening up to everyone who wanted the opportunity to play soccer, Anahuak developed into what it is today.

Although Don Raúl is the visible face of Anahuak, to him it is important to remember that, “Behind us there are a number of people who do everything for a greater purpose, for their children and now for their grandchildren who come to play.”

Today, with a storied legacy and with thousands of alumni, Anahuak continues headstrong with its mission of supporting the healthy development of children and teens through sports.

Raul Macias has called Northeast LA home since 1976. He has become a fixture in the community; advocating for sport as an outlet for at-risk youth and awareness of the environment and health problems that affect the migrant community in California. He is the founder of the Anahuak Youth Sports Association, founded in 1994 in Northeast Los Angeles. His organizing efforts aided in the opening of a 40-acre Rio de Los Angeles State Historic Park in 2006, commonly referred to as “Anahuak Park” or even “Don Raul’s Park”.