PHILADELPHIA, July 16, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A crowd of well-wishers gathered in Manayunk today to send off a team of seventeen young people representing Philadelphia in the Gothia Cup, the world's largest youth soccer tournament. The group departed for Sweden from Starfinder, a nonprofit that pairs athletic instruction with a range of educational and enrichment programs for young people from underserved communities. Many of the teens have never left Philadelphia before.
The team's trip is sponsored by SKF USA, Lansdale, Pa. Last April, SKF, a global manufacturer of bearings, seals and related products, sponsored a "Meet the World" tournament with Starfinder and announced it would send a team to Sweden to play in the Gothia Cup.
"Watching this group play in the Meet the World Tournament was inspiring," said Poul Jeppesen, President SKF North America. "They've worked very hard to get to this point -- in school and on the field – and we know they will make the City of Philadelphia very proud."
Gothia Cup is sponsored by SKF for boys and girls, regardless of social background, age, culture, and religion, to meet playing soccer. More than 35,000 children from 70 countries travel annually to Gothenburg, Sweden to participate. In addition, SKF Supports the Gothia Cup by organizing its own soccer tournament program called "Meet the World," where local SKF companies in over 20 countries host a team from their area to the Gothia Cup.
Hugh McHugh, father of Kyle McHugh, said "Where else will you find a team like ours from a large American city with diverse racial and cultural backgrounds speaking I don't know how many languages, going to a country and a tournament where all the languages in the world will be spoken?"
Starfinder's programs are delivered after school during the academic year and at summer programs. Annually Starfinder works with 700-800 children and youth, ages 6-18, including some of the city's most profoundly underserved communities. The team traveling to the Gothia Cup was selected through soccer skills and an essay competition.
"This isn't just the experience of a lifetime for these kids, but the accomplishment of a lifetime," said Steve Baumann, President & CEO of Starfinder. "Their commitment to soccer and to their education has afforded them this opportunity. We are grateful for partners like SKF for recognizing their commitment."