Playing for peace
Over 500 players, spectators, coaches and volunteers came together in the name of peace to play soccer during an all-day tournament last weekend, for the eighth year in a row.
The Play for Peace Soccer Tournament was first organized in 2009 through the office of then-Legis. Jack Eddington, in conjunction with the Patchogue-Medford Youth Soccer League, as a response to the Marcelo Lucero tragedy in 2008. Legis. Calarco (D-Patchogue), who had been Eddington’s chief of staff, carried on the tradition of presenting the tournament after he was elected in 2011. Since then, the tournament has become a tradition celebrating diversity and promoting tolerance through the love of sports.
It’s had several supporters including Gershow Recycling who have sponsored the event every year and Health First, which came on board this year. All proceeds from the event were donated to Long Island Head Start’s scholarship program.
“We are going to have a pretty sizable donation of at least a few thousand dollars,” reported Calarco.
Despite the hot record-breaking heat, eight men’s and six women’s teams played and, thanks to Coca-Cola, 40 cases of water and Powerade were donated to keep everyone hydrated. Also, for the second year in a row, the New York Cosmos participated with a free soccer clinic for kids 11 to 17.
“It’s about having tolerance and patience for each other and this is not much different than the Olympics,” said Jonathan Abrams, Gershow Recycling manager. “Everyone is out here getting along and having a great time and that is what it’s all about.”
Following the games, Calarco, in conjunction with the Patchogue-Medford Youth Soccer League, hosted a “champions dinner” for all participants. Calarco said over 14 local restaurants donated more than 19 trays of food for the meal including PeraBell Food Bar and the Tap Room.
“The goal was to have integration and what we’ve seen since starting is an increase in Hispanic players and an increase in Hispanic members who want to coach,” said Calarco, referring to the Patchogue-Medford Youth Soccer League.
Joselo Lucero, Marcelo Lucero’s brother, said the event is all about teaching young people about getting along. “Everyone is an immigrant,” he said. “It’s about no hate and getting along with your neighbor.”
All participants received an award and the top winning men’s and women’s teams won a trophy.
And in the spirit of the day, a good sportsmanship award was presented.
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