On Sunday 11th of August, 15 "Brave" teams entered what would turn out to be a fantastic day of soccer. They came all the way from Lancaster, PA and Trenton, NJ to the lovely, scenic location of the Rutgers Camden playing fields. Yes - you read that correctly - scenic and Camden in the same sentence.
While there was a delay to start the tournament - when play got underway, there was little to dampen the enthusiasm of all teams. In fact, if the start was delayed 10 more minutes - the baseball tournament going on at Campbells Field in Camden would have played the national anthems for everyone.
Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, from the "serious" competitors that were there trying to win - to even just the teams having fun. For example, a team was entered by the older players of Kensington, who managed to get a draw against their Group winners "Penmen FC", made up of the journalists and bloggers who follow the Philadelphia Union, including Kevin Kinkead and Kerith Gabriel. Unfortunately for the Kensington team, their tournament ended in the group phase - as "Chico's Bail Bonds" under captain Andrew Laplante took 2nd place. Thanks also go to the rest of that group for taking part - RYAA Rainbows (Holly Kolacz captain) and one of the Pick-up teams under Lauren Pease's guidance.
Probably the toughest, tightest group to be in was Group 2, where the less than creatively named Dan, Andy, Steve, Scott and Ryan lost their first game, only to go on and win all the rest, winning the group. Another pickup team "Team Aziz" finished in 2nd place, only because they lost to DASSR. A final game had either Trenton Social or the SOCCARE co-ordinators going to be one of the quarterfinal teams as a best 3rd place, and again, because of a win in the head to head, Trenton Social did manage to get to the knockout stages. It was unlucky on the Soccare Coordinators, and maybe even more unlucky on the 5th team in the group, headed by CYSCs coach Tarika to get stuck in a very difficult group.
The final group had the Union Dues own "Reckless FC" organised by Eryin Wandel, going up against the Vuvuzela "Ukranians" (playing in place of Eric Nash), the DOOP-Cast crew, Honey Badgers (Captain Shannon Allen) and a "plug in" team made up of the organising committee. This is a group that the Ukranians walked through with ease, and again in a close "goal difference" type result, both Reckless FC and DOOP-Cast went on to the quarterfinals. Hopefully all of the teams eliminated by now enjoyed themselves enough to give it a go next year.
In the quarterfinals, there was no real shocks. All group winners advanced easily, and in a close, shall we say "contentious" game, Chico's Bail Bonds knocked out Team Aziz. The Semi finals saw the Vevuzela Ukranians and Penmen FC come through - leaving what was thought to be an interesting final. Unfortunately for the Penmen - the Vuvuzela team had a little too much quality, and strolled to victory.
As well as the on-field action, there was plenty of other things going on. Thanks to Wawa - who provided a whole load of juice cartons and pretzels, all players were able to drink and eat all day at no charge. With a gift card from Walmart, there was also plenty water and ice to keep everyone cool in the hot weather. Thanks must go to both companies for their donations. There was also an excellent donation by Son of Ben member Erika Markowitz. For those that don't know Erika, she runs her own business - http://www.amway.com/erikamarkowitz - and she donated some really cool energy drinks and energy bars. By the speed that they disappeared from the concession area, they must have been really good. For those that enjoyed the drinks/bars you can get in touch with Erika at the website above, or probably at any Union game. Thanks for the donation.
With the games over - the time for prizes being handed out was upon us. We started off with the Golden Boot award. This went to Vuvuezela's Pavel Surmach (if got your name wrong, I apologize). I'm sure everyone will agree that quality wise, he was head and shoulders above everyone else, and probably scored more goals in the tournament than any other team did. Maybe a scout from the newly formed Bearfight Brigade team can watch him play?
In 3rd place, doing a fantastic job in the end was Chico's Bail bonds, who ended the DASSR teams winning streak, to take home the 3rd place medals. Throughout the game, they were one of the teams with a supporter that may have helped them to that 3rd spot, so the supporter got a medal too.
In 2nd place, were the Philly Soccer Page "sponsored" Penmen FC. It was great to have some of these writers out to the tournament in the first year of it's running, and hopefully they will be able to spread the word even more next year. That sentiment goes out to all who participated, if we can all get one other team to enter, it will keep getting bigger and better.
The winning team were the team sponsored by the Vuvuzela Radio Show. For weeks, radio host Eric Nash continually asked for players to play in a team he would sponsor, citing knee issues for his absence. I don't think he could have imagined that the team that answered his calls would have been so good, and has now set the standard for years to come.
Thanks must go to all those who came out to make this tournament a success by playing in it. Hopefully next year we have more teams, more players, and more fun. While the main objective of the day was to play in the tournament, we had some great raffle prizes too. Some of the raffle prizes that were claimed by people I have no name for are as follows :
Flyers Autograph Photo, Lantern Theatre Tickets, A very nice watch donated by Cadence Watches. There was a matchday program from the 1996 Coca Cola cup final (Aston Villa beat Leeds 3-0) - which was signed by the entire Aston Villa squad. Interestingly, it was a little girl who wasn't alive at the time of the game who won. I would guess her father will be happier with it than she was. Yours Truly managed to walk away with some more theater tickets, and there were some prizes not claimed on the day. These included a Philly 76er player autograph (still to be claimed - #8845417) and Fifa 2014 World Cup T-shirt (ticket # 8845603). If you have these numbers, get back to us.
Other prizes that were won and not claimed on the day have now been claimed by DOOP-Cast team. They were an autographed copy of Dracula Rekindled, signed by author Xander Buchan (and everyone should go and buy it anyway as it's a great book). Mr. Cast also won an item donated by Kieran Todd of FC Social. This was a Union hat signed by Chris Konopka and Michael Lahoud. Mr. Lahoud is a fantastic guy - and everyone should look into his charity program, which is having a fundraiser bowling day - find out more here https://www.facebook.com/events/204230069742341/
While Kieran donated one prize, he also walked away with a fantastic prize. Donated all the way from England was a signed copy of Zoe Sharp's book Second Shot. While it has nothing to do with soccer, it is definitely worth a read, and I'm sure Mrs Todd will be happy with this win :)
There was one prize that everyone wanted more than anyone else however. Somehow, one of the organizers managed to get in touch with the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Eagles donated a signed soccer ball. It was signed during a game at the Linc, in 2011, involving the Philadelphia Union. However, no Union players were on it. Instead, it was the Real Madrid Galacticos, including Cristiano Ronaldo, and many other stars. While his team may have finished in 4th place, the Steve of Dan Andy Steve, Scott and Ryan - good tweeter and Union fan Steven Moore had his number called. I'll bet that's the best raffle money he has ever spent :)
With all the awards handed out - it was the end of the day. A few months of planning managed to get a positive result. We want to thank Rutgers Camden for allowing us to play at the fields. We want to thank Barktees for giving us a great deal on t-shirts, and being the t-shirt sponsor. For those that were unable to play - you can still take part in the fundraising efforts - we have over 100 t-shirts left over that we are selling at $10 per t-shirt, get in touch with us if you want one (or more). We can even look into a deal for shipping it to you if you can't get to Philadelphia.
Overall, the aim of the tournament was to raise funds for both Clubs. While we have some expenses, with police costs to pay and t-shirts to buy, we were able to use the donations from great places such as a $250 donation from Dranoff Properties to lower those costs. If you are looking for a great place to stay - as a former occupant of a Dranoff Properties building in Camden (Victor Lofts) they are great value for money. Thanks to the Dranoff people for their donation. Another company giving a $250 donation was Beechtree Reno, and specifically Maurice Koningstein a long time friend of CYSC.
When you add in all donations, raffle takings, team entry fees - we are looking at already having a profit of about $500-$600 to be split between the 2 teams. When you add in the extra t-shirt sales we are hoping to make - it will be even more. We came to the conclusion that it was a great result for a first year of trying - so therefore, we urge everyone to think of entering (and entering again) next year. We will make a date announcement in January/February. As I said before, let's aim to double the amount of teams next year.
I'll finish off with a thank-you to all those who took part. Whether it was coming along to cheer on friends, playing in the tournament, donating raffle prizes or just spreading the word - it wouldn't have been a success without you all. I also encourage everyone to thank those who donated by going to their establishments and buying things, or using their services. Thanks all.
Unless stated, all photos were taken by Dan Hardy, one of the tournament organisers. For more fantastic pictures you can check out Earl Gardners Photo Essay here : http://www.phillysoccerpage.net/2013/08/14/building-bridges-3v3-charity-tournament-in-pictures/