Kenney helps draw teams for Unity Cup's fourth season: 'We are all brothers'

Cherri Gregg
June 07, 2019 - 8:21 pm
Mayor Jim Kenney draws teams for the 2019 International Unity Cup in Philadelphia

Cherri Gregg | KYW Newsradio

Categories: 

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — June is immigrant heritage month, the perfect time for the Philadelphia International Unity Cup to get in gear.

On Friday, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney was on hand at Independence Visitor's center to draw teams for the opening rounds of the fourth season.

The Unity Cup is a "World Cup Style" soccer tournament where "teams" represent a specific country. For the second year in a row 52 teams will participate.

"We in Philadelphia, we are all brothers and we look out for each other," Kenney said.

The mayor picked the groupings for round one of the team play, which kicks off in August.

The tournament was his idea and the goal was to bring the city's diverse immigrant populations together using the common language that is soccer.

Jason Waylee is coach of defending champions — Team Liberia. Waylee’s team has seen plenty of success, and he says they are ready to win again.

"We are already prepared,” he said. “We started practicing like two weeks ago."

Team Ukraine manager Roman Chuprynyak says they've been building their team and are ready to be competitive. Ukraine made it into the final four last year.

"We prepare every time from the end of the last season (until) now," he said.

"The West African teams have dominated, but over the course of the years you can see teams grow," explained Unity Cup director Bill Salvatore.

He says the tournament also has grown and it's catching on in other cities, like Boston.

"We’re getting national attention now, which is really nice,” he said. “We’ve had outreach from Detroit and L.A. and other cities trying to replicate it."

When the teams complete round one, they'll go to knock out rounds and then end with a championship and all-star game in October at Talen Energy Stadium.

For more information you can visit UnityCup.phila.gov.