Last Wednesday, ninety youth from all corners of Chicago – from Kenwood and Hyde Park to West Town and Rogers Park – descended upon UIC’s soccer field for an afternoon full of soccer, healthy food, and making new friends. These youth represented a rich array of faith traditions, coming from Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and non-religious families. While all of the youth currently reside in Chicago, many of them were born in other countries, including Somalia, Nepal, and Burma.
The kids relished the exposure to different cultures. The small-sided (5 versus 5) soccer games featured mixed-teams, which encouraged the youth to develop their teamwork and communication skills with their new teammates. While some were a bit timid at first, by the game’s end, all were high-fiving like old friends.
The kids received a visit from Terry Mazany, the guest of honor and CEO and President of the Chicago Community Trust. Urban Initiatives presented Terry with the Golden Ball Award for all of the support he has given to projects such as the Interfaith Cup that promote interfaith and intercultural harmony in Chicago. Urban Initiatives was honored to have Terry in attendance and is grateful to him for sharing his words of wisdom with the young soccer players.
Following the games, there was a healthy multicultural picnic featuring Middle Eastern, Mexican, and Soul food. The vegetarian barbecue from Soul Vegetarian was the biggest hit, while the Middle Eastern grape leaves drew mixed (and some funny) reactions. The important thing, though, was that practically everyone sampled a little bit of everything! At Reavis Elementary School’s practice this morning, the kids were still buzzing about all the different foods they tried. The youth also left the Interfaith Cup with an educational packet that included a worksheet on diversity and healthy recipes spanning the globe.
The Cup coincided with Peace One Day‘s global initiative to encourage soccer matches all over the world on September 21st. All Peace One Day matches celebrate cooperation, unity and the power of sport to bring people together on the UN International Day of Peace.
This collaborative event would not have been possible without the help and support of many individuals and organizations. Urban Initiatives wishes to thank:
- Terry Mazany, CEO and President of the Chicago Community Trust, for his support of the Interfaith Cup
- One Chicago, One Nation for providing the funding for the Interfaith Cups
- UIC Men’s Soccer Coach Sean Phillips for letting UI host the Cup at his beautiful field
- A team of amazing volunteers from DRW Trading Group for all their help refereeing and coaching the games
- Our friends at Optimus who filmed the event and interviewed youth
- UI Junior Board members Genna Waldman and Jen McGowan for their expert coaching
- Friends of Heart Women & Girls for bringing a soccer-skilled group of youth
- Public Allies alumni for volunteering their time at the event
- And last, but not least, the many parents who filled the stands and cheered on the kids!
UI will be organizing more Interfaith Cups throughout the year – be on the lookout for details! If you are interested in participating or volunteering please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
See UI’s Facebook page for more photos from the Interfaith Cup