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Northeastern and Boston Unity Cup bring global soccer tournament to campus

Written by Ian Thomsen of Northeastern University. Read full article here.

June 21, 2023

Boston Unity Cup, a community celebration of the world’s most popular sport, is returning to the historic William E. Carter Playground on Sunday with an opening festival of soccer revolving around 32 men’s and women’s teams.

The month-long tournament is based on the international format of the World Cup. The opening festivities will include a parade of nations that could feature more than 600 players from the Greater Boston area carrying their national flags into Carter Playground.

Opening day of the expanded Boston Unity Cup will include a street festival with food trucks, resource fair, amputee soccer showcase game, and youth jamboree presented by the New England Revolution and Special Olympics.

More than a soccer tournament, Boston Unity Cup brings together communities. Northeastern has partnered with Boston Unity Cup to provide uniforms as well as access to Carter Playground.

“Boston Unity Cup is a place where residents of this global city come to shape and cultivate a community around unification, no matter their cultural background,” says Chimel Idiokitas, assistant vice president for city and community affairs at Northeastern. “Like the Unity Cup, Northeastern is a global university that stands on those same shared values and we’re honored to be the presenting sponsor for Boston Unity Cup this year.”

The main attraction of the day-long free event Sunday will be a full slate of games featuring all 24 men’s teams and eight women’s teams beginning at 8 a.m. As many as a half-dozen games will be played simultaneously on shortened fields with seven players per team. Players “appreciate the level of competition,” says Tony Cardoso, coach of the Cape Verde men’s team.

“It’s all built around bringing together and uniting our whole city,” says Caroline Foscato, co-founder of Boston Unity Cup. “Soccer can be a sport for anybody, not just across gender and background and race and ethnicity, but also across ability and age. Boston Unity Cup provides for all of that.”

Following the example of the World Cup, the teams will compete in groups before entering the knockout stages that culminate with the championship games on July 23 at Carter Playground.

Honduras beat the U.S. last year in the women’s final, while in the men’s final Cape Verde recovered from an early deficit to knock off the U.S. on penalty kicks.

“For me, this Unity Cup unifies all the nations together,” says Tony Cardoso, a longtime player and coach in Boston youth soccer. He’ll be coaching his sons, Jonathan and Jay, on the Cape Verde men’s team on Sunday.

Boston Unity Cup is a place where residents of this global city come to shape and cultivate a community. Chimel Idiokitas, assistant vice president for city and community affairs at Northeastern

The tournament showcases the diverse soccer community of talented players who compete after work throughout the playgrounds of Greater Boston, Cardoso says.

“On any given team there are three or four players that are great players,” Cardoso says. “It’s really about the unity piece—about having a space to come together and celebrate each other. The players really appreciate that. And they appreciate the level of competition.”

Young players of all abilities from ages 6 to 14 can register via Boston Unity Cup to participate in the Youth Jamboree.

The event is now affiliated with the larger Soccer Unity Project that Foscato helped launch last year—a result of her 15-year investment in Boston’s soccer community. “Boston is a global city with a beautiful kaleidoscope of communities,” Foscato says. “This is the sport that touches every nation and ethnicity and region in the world. In a few years we could see us growing to over 1,000 players as more ethnicities and backgrounds are represented.”


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