Bethlehem Steel, Reading United, West Chester United and Newtown Pride FC all took part in one of the better stories to come out of soccer in a while Tuesday night in West Chester. Bethlehem faced off with Newtown, with Reading playing West Chester in a double header of sorts between some of the better local clubs in the area and a very good amateur side from Newtown, CT.
After some time off, Steel FC was eager to get a match in, and faced a Newtown side that came in with a community to represent. Bethlehem fielded a smart roster, made up of some Philadelphia Union Academy kids (Anthony Fontana, Kristopher Shakes and Eoin Gawronski) with Josh Heard (the captain on the night) as well as Matt Real, Santi Moar, Yosef Samuel, Charlie Reymann, Hugh Roberts and Chris Nanco representing the full time players within the organization. Jay Cooney lead the team from the technical box, but stressed that the goal of the game itself was to put on a show. Of course at the same time, everyone that I got to talk to echoed something that Jay Cooney summed up pretty well.
That being said, in case it wasn’t made terribly clear, last night’s donations go to Newtown Youth and Family Services. You can read up on NY&FS here but in short they provide tons of services, medical and otherwise, to a community that was rocked by a tragedy that I honestly feel unequipped to begin to talk about. Newtown Pride FC came down a long way to spread a message of support and unity through soccer, and were more than successful in doing so. West Chester United provided a great venue and I’ll give plenty of credit to Bethlehem and Reading as well for putting on some great games.
Soccer is used as a form of enjoyment and entertainment for some of us, debate and discussion for others and even as a form of escape from the world around us for others still. What happened last night in West Chester brought awareness to the struggles and challenges as well as the communal spirit and perseverance that Newtown still shows today, and for that, we thank everyone involved.