EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – A Juarez, Mexico, professional soccer team is expanding its footprint in the United States with the help of Mexican consulates.

FC Juarez officials say they will sponsor tournaments, set up permanent soccer camps and establish relations with community leaders in eight American cities, including El Paso.

“Our sports organization is going to have a very active presence. We are going to open and establish permanent schools in those cities. We are going to take our coaches from both men’s and women’s teams to open opportunities for kids in those regions,” said Alejandro Hutt, marketing director for FC Juarez, also known by the moniker of “The Bravos.”

Host cities include El Paso, Las Cruces, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Denver, Houston, Austin and Dallas, Hutt said. Mexican consulates and the Institute for Mexicans Abroad (IME) will push the effort as part of their commitment to promote sports and a healthy lifestyle among Mexican-American children.

“We have 12 million Mexican immigrants living in the United States plus their children and grandchildren,” said IME President Luis Gutierrez Reyes. “It’s a very large community and we are glad to promote healthy, family-oriented activities such as sports.”

Hutt and Gutierrez said promoting Mexican soccer in the United States will strengthen binational ties and help improve the image of Mexicans – and of Juarez, a border city often associated with cartel activity – abroad.

“Sports unite us. Sports create community bonds. We are sure this will generate a positive interaction between our communities,” Gutierrez said. He hopes more Mexican soccer teams follow FC Juarez’s lead and begin setting roots in U.S. cities.

Hutt said each host city can expect visits from professional soccer players, scouts and members of the club’s nonprofit foundation who will be identifying how the club can contribute to academic or health-related projects.