Liberia Wins Third Unity Cup Championship
One of Philadelphia Major, Jim Kenney’s plan for Philadelphia when he took office was to use sport as a bridge amongst the diverse immigrant population living in the city. Such a plan gave birth to the Philadelphia International Unity Cup. Called the Unity Cup for short, this annual soccer competition which runs between September and October of each year features various nationalities that have made Philadelphia their home over the years. Originally 16 teams, this year’s tournament fielded 52 teams with participants from Africa to the Americas, from Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, the Middle East to the Far East.
The diversity of the teams does not only make Philadelphia a welcoming city along the East Coast but one of several sanctuary cities where people from various parts of the world immigrate to make their home and start a new life. Like every year, one of this year’s pre-game activities at the Talen Energy Stadium in Chester on October 12 was the granting of citizenship to 21 men and women who have met the requirements and have elected to take the pledge of allegiance.
But the main event of the evening was the finale of the Unity Cup which was in its fourth year mirroring the World Cup elimination format. It was Liberia, the reigning three-time champion, beating the USA 3 – 0 reasserting its dominance and affirming that it is the team to be reckoned with. Liberia, a tiny West African country, has gone to the finals four times in the four years since Major Kenney announced the tournament of nations on the north court of City Hall in 2016.
The Liberian Lone Star team displayed agility and skillfulness when it scored its first goal in the seventh minute of the game. But in spite of the continued half-court pressure the Lone Star put on Team USA throughout the first half, the half ended with Liberia scoring the only goal. However, the second half saw an aggressive US team looking for the equalizer. With relentless counter-attack, the Lone Star rebuffed Team USA with its second goal in the 75th minute and completely sealed Team USA’s fate with a third goal in the 80th minute.
Even though the tournament has been underpublicized by the local news media and social media platforms, hundreds of Liberians and their friends took advantage of the free admission to attend the game and cheer on their hometown team. And cheering, singing, drumming and dancing they did to the chagrin of the handful of Team USA’s supporters who had nothing to cheer for.
Besides winning this year’s championship, one of the Lone Star’s players who stood out to receive individual accolade was the goalkeeper, Prince Monyan for allowing just one goal during the tournament. As a consequent, Monyan was awarded the Golden Glove by Mayor Kenney during the award ceremony.