Philadelphia Union bring soccer back to Chester schools

Justin Udo
June 05, 2019 - 5:18 pm
Philadelphia Union

Justin Udo/KYW Newsradio

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DELAWARE COUNTY, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — High school soccer is returning to the Chester Upland School District after a 30-year hiatus, thanks, in part, to a big kick-start from the Philadelphia Union.

The team may be named after Philadelphia, but its stadium sits in the heart of Chester, Delaware County, which is why the Philadelphia Union Foundation wanted to see Chester alongside them.

"We're here to support Chester," added Hayes Hunt, chairman of the foundation. "Chester is the home of this team, and we look forward to being much more of a part of the community."

The Philadelphia Union and partners — the City of Chester, Power Home Remodeling, and Adidas — are revamping high school soccer by funding new fields, pro-level uniforms, coaches, and more for boys and girls varsity and junior varsity teams at district schools.

For rising sophomore Ceasar Ugwuanyi, who has been playing soccer for the last 10 years, being able to play at the high school level is a dream come true.

"I always wanted a high school team, so it's good they're bringing a high school team to STEM (Academy)," he said.

Camryn Robinson, a rising junior, said she is not taking this opportunity for granted. 

"It's a big opportunity because everyone from Chester is used to the same sports such as basketball and football, and it's a lot of favoritism toward them," she said. "It's cool because we get a new opportunity to play a different sport."

Robinson noted she's grown a lot through playing soccer, and she knows that playing in high school with these new resources will help her even more.

"Soccer is helping me achieve my goals," she said. "It's helping me get over fear of being shy and opening me up to meeting new people, and me getting along and being comfortable with everyone."

Union head coach Jim Curtin said he sees a lot of potential in this program.

"Not every kid is going to become a professional — that's the reality of life. But at the same time, along the way with the program we have, they'll learn a lot of life lessons for both on and off the field, and there's no better teacher than the game of sports," he said.

The Philadelphia Union will also invest in STEM education in the school district.

"Different things are going to be thrown at you through your development academically and on the field," he continued. "You have to able to roll with the punches and, again, stay humble and hungry."