“Melting pot” – a metaphor for a fusion of nationalities, cultures, and ethnicities is a term often used to describe the population of United States. And no sport encapsulates this concept more than the sport of soccer. The unique global appeal of soccer recently came to the forefront once again with the news that Philadelphia will be hosting a city-wide international soccer community cup.
The event, organized by the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office and Parks and Recreation Department, will feature teams from the various cultures and communities that make up the fabric of Philadelphia. Philadelphia isn’t the first city to have an internationally flavored, community-based soccer tournament and it won’t be the last, but this one hits a littler closer to home for me personally.
Rewind a few years and I’m back at Temple University in North Philadelphia. All around me is a global soccer energy and an experience I didn’t see growing up in the suburbs. Almost every night on North Broad Street we would gather for hours of pick up, joined by people from every corner of the globe. Playing with non-native African, Asian, European, Caribbean, and Hispanic players gave me a formal introduction to soccer my previous 15 years traveling around the U.S. for games and tournaments never provided.
I’m a son of an immigrant father who played growing up in Indonesia. Two of my good friends, and fellow intramural champion teammates (shout out to Team Pup ‘n Suds), were sons of Italian and Bulgarian immigrant families. We all came from diverse backgrounds and found soccer in different ways. Soccer brought us together and I believe this city-wide cup will do the same for many Philadelphian soccer fans. The concept represents a tremendous opportunity for people who share cultures to organize and represent their country, their community, and their families on the soccer field for local glory and personal pride.
Fast forward to the present. Working in the soccer marketing business I now look at the world through the dual perspective of soccer fan/player and also marketer. As a marketer I get equally excited about the opportunity this event affords to a brand looking to connect with the local Philadelphia community. It’s a highly geo-targeted way to reach a diverse group of male and female players and families from Generations X and Y who grew up through and around the sport. Soccer passion + community pride = winning formula.
The tournament is scheduled to happen in the Fall with the championship being played at the Phillies’ Citizens Bank Park. On the heels of Philly hosting several Copa America Centenario games, the European Championships, and World Cup qualifying, excitement and national pride should be at an all-time high from the television screen to the soccer field.
The cynical side of me questions the political motivations behind this event. For sure there is political capital to be gained by using soccer as a means to engage important demographic audiences. Bottom line though, this is a great event and is something I can get behind as a Philadelphian soccer fan and as a brand marketer.