Can soccer and community activism make a difference? The organizers of Save Our Somerville's second annual soccer tournament hope so.
Teams of local players showed up at Glen Park to compete for trophies and the top spot as local champions April 19.
Adam Rich, a 23-year-old Somerville native, has been active with SOS since 2008. "SOS spoke to who I am," he says of his initial involvement. "I was very passionate about the city and the direction I saw it going in," but saw that the direction wasn't in tune with the way he wanted. He felt relieved to find people who shared his community-oriented opinions. "I didn't know anyone like that existed."
Save our Somerville leaders describes their community organization as "committed to giving a voice to those who feel they have no voice in our community." They've been vocal in recent years, especially about the development in park renovations. One goal they've tackled was the implementation of skate park elements in the design for Kelly Park.
"All these kids who skate only ever wanted some place to go," Rich says of the struggle to get the city to accommodate for skaters. "We consider this a big victory."
Rich's idea for a soccer tournament began after attending several similar community-based tournaments of different sports. He wasn't particularly good at those sports, and wanted to host a tournament where he could play the game - but, as he describes it, with an ulterior motive: "SOS is underrepresented with certain segments of the population, mostly immigrant. Soccer has a much broader appeal than most other sports we've been hosting."
The tournament consisted of six teams, including two returning teams Venezuela and Atletico San Francisco, the returning champions of last years tournament. Though the entry fee was $75 per team, it was negotiable. "Don't worry about it," Theo Rich, a 17-year-old Somerville High School senior and brother of Adam Rich, said to the captain of team BraUSA, composed of middle-school aged kids, after they explained that they didn't the money to pay.
The tournament consisted of several rounds of matches, followed by a championship match - which saw team Atletico San Francisco taking the top spot two years running - and a kids vs. adults game, a continuing tradition.
Rich promises next year's tournament to be "bigger and badder," as his involvement in the community and SOS continues to grow. However, he laughs at the prospect of this becoming a fundraising event, and is simply more concerned with having a good time. "Last year we broke even," he says. "This year we made $20."