Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Pitch for Peace: Local soccer tournament to bring together diverse cultures in friendly competition

Team Bhutan, one of the Unity Cup teams.

Soccer enthusiasts will get a kick out of this upcoming Harrisburg event.

The first-ever Central PA Unity Cup, set for May 12 to 21, will bring together culturally diverse teams over their love for the game.

“Soccer can bridge so many demographics,” said Camp Hill native Sarah Vogelsong, the organizer of the event.

Years ago, Vogelsong, a life-long soccer player, saw Philadelphia hold a Unity Cup that brought together local players native to countries across the globe. She was then inspired to replicate that in Harrisburg. Now central PA’s Unity Cup will be the third in the nation, after Philly and Boston.

The recreational tournament will include nine teams representing countries from around the globe. Bhutan will serve as the host country, as central PA has a large Bhutanese community.

Other players come from places like Italy, Peru, Ecuador, Bosnia, Nigeria and the United States. All players currently live in the central PA area.

“I’m excited for the diversity of players that we are going to see,” Vogelsong said.

Opening night of the tournament will take place on May 12 at the HACC athletic field at 6 p.m when team Bhutan will face off against team Italy. The championship game, where the final two teams will compete, will take place on May 21 at 11 a.m. at the City Island Skyline Sports Complex.

All games are free to attend and open to the public.

In conjunction with the championship game, Dauphin County will host a “Spring Neighboring Festival,” also on the City Island field, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will feature entertainment, kids’ activities, food trucks and community resources.

Vogelsong hopes to make the Unity Cup an annual event and eventually create separate men’s and women’s teams.

Sponsors for the event include the Dauphin County Commissioners, Capital Blue Cross, Fidelity Direct Mortgage, Mid Penn Bank, Pizza Boy Brewing Company, and Café Fresco.

“Sports are a way to connect,” Vogelsong said. “We think soccer will really unite the city.”

For more information on the Central PA Unity Cup and for a full tournament schedule, visit their website or Facebook page.

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