Utica Celebrates Its Own World Cup
An upstate city of just under 60,000, Utica, New York celebrated held its own "World Cup" on June 13-14, 2010. During the season of World Cup fever taking place in South Africa, and closely watched around the world, soccer fans in Utica had the opportunity to see live "international" soccer. The first Redeemer Cup had teams representing many ethnic groups that make up this city of immigrants.
For a century and a half, many waves of immigrants have come to Utica, each in its own way making a permanent impression on our culture. In recent years, Utica this has become a major destination for resettlement of refugees with the help of the Mohawk Valley Center for Refugees. The influx of the past two decades included many from Bosnia (now forming about 10% of the city's population), Russians, Cambodians, Karen from Burma, and more recently Somali Bantu and Sudanese, and others from Latin America and South Asia.
While baseball's World Series and football's Super Bowl dominate American sports, soccer and the World Cup are very popular around the world. Many immigrant communities already have a strong affinity for World Cup fever, something relatively new to broad segments of the US population.
With the Redeemer Church in Utica under the leadership of Pastor Rick Andrew, this international love of soccer was played out with the first Redeemer Cup on various fields of Utica's Proctor Park on June 13-14, 2010. With about 8 months of organizing, 16 teams representing various sectors of the immigrant community and the Redeemer Church came into competition, drawing these groups closer together.
Representative teams included in the Redeemer Cup:
Bhutanese Nepali Team
Bosnian Team (Krajisnik Soccer Club)
Burmese Multi-Ethnic Team (MEAB)
Italian Team (The Coliseum Soccer Club)
Karen Team A (Karen refugees from Burma)
Karen Team B
Pan-African Team (featuring players from Liberia, Kenya, Tanzania, and more)
Salvadoran Team (representing our Hispanic Community)
Somali Bantu Team
Redeemer Church Team
Mayor David Roefaro, State Representative Roann Destito, State Senator Joe Griffo, and Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente were all present at the Redeemer Cup's opening ceremonies. The Mayor foresees this as becoming a large annual event. This would provide a showcase of community talent and provide a popular athletic event for city residents and visitors.
While attended by political dignitaries, this was a real grass roots effort sparked by a few people with an interest in soccer and a vision for the community. Their efforts will not go unrewarded.
Who could have known that thirty odd years ago, when 800 runners ran the first Boilermaker on the second Sunday in July, a 15 Km road race in Utica, it would become an internationally known world class event? Thirty years on, this athletic event strongly affirms a sense of who and what we are.
The Redeemer Cup will become another positive symbol of our often-misunderstood city. It is possible for life-long residents and recently arrived immigrants to celebrate our diversity as one community. Active participants and spectators alike are able to enjoy life together, celebrating collectively our sense of community and place in Utica, New York.
Redeemer Cup Homepage
Utica Observer Dispatch, June 13, 2010
WKTV News Channel 2
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