A group of Triqui Indian children from southern Mexico played and won two basketball games during their first visit to Los Angeles, defeating a team of reporters and then members of a local immigrant-rights group.

The young athletes, who range in age from six to 11 and are known for playing their sport barefoot, have come to this metropolis to promote their culture and seek economic assistance.

"These children represent a ray of hope for those who want to get ahead in spite of the challenges they face," said Jorge-Mario Cabrera, communications director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, or CHIRLA, which supported the international visit.

The trip is significant from a generational standpoint, according to Ernesto Marino, one of the coaches of the team from the Triqui indigenous community of Santa Cruz, Oaxaca state.

"It's a very important experience for them to come and see Los Angeles, where they've heard that many of their relatives and even parents or grandparents have come," Marino told Efe.

One of the purposes of the event was to raise money to support the Indian youths via donations to the Federation of Oaxacan Communities and Indigenous Organizations in California, or FOCIOCA.

Abimael Garcia Perez, a member of the youth team, told Efe the trip was a great opportunity to share experiences and gauge their abilities.

But Cabrera said the children, who have won tournaments against other youth teams in Mexico and abroad, face very difficult economic circumstances.

"It's ironic that these kids have to leave their country to be considered heroes, just as it's sad that we immigrants in the United States, who have come to fight hard to achieve positive objectives, are not recognized in the country 'where dreams come true,'" the CHIRLA director said. EFE