A sea of players, fans, color and pride filled the National Sports Center Stadium at the 28th annual Schwan’s USA CUP, presented by PUMA’s Opening Ceremonies held Tuesday night. The sheer joy shared by all in attendance was proof enough that USA CUP is about more than just soccer.
Opening Ceremonies is the only time throughout the entire tournament that all players have the opportunity to be in the same place, at the same time. And tonight, the field was covered with more than 10,000 soccer players and fans from all over the world sharing an experience that is hard to explain to those who have not walked in their shoes.
Paul Erickson, Executive Director of the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission, presented the 2012 Founders Award to Tom and Bev Menk, who have volunteered at the tournament since its first year in 1985. Many have not matched their dedication to the tournament and their passion to not only the tournament, but also to soccer, has shown through their decades of service.
The parade of teams was led by Midwest United, a team from Joplin, Missouri who have used soccer as a way to heal after an F5 tornado May 22, 2011 destroyed much of the city and killed 158 people.
The parade of players showcased the pride each team has for their club. A collection of flags, Schwan’s ice cream and PUMA shades overflowed the stadium field as songs from different countries filled the air. The exhilaration as the teams heard all felt their names echo through the stadium.
The final team in the parade, the U.S. National Amputee Soccer Team, brought the entire stadium to their feet.
A beautiful rendition of the National Anthem was sung by twelve year-old, Julius Andrews, from Coon Rapids, Minn. and the flag was presented by the Minnesota Stars FC as they carried their North American Soccer League championship trophy along the parade of players.
The crowd then turned their gaze to the sky awaiting the skydivers. But the jumpers were not able to jump due to a fuel line rupture during their flight. They returned the airport safely and Opening Ceremonies moved to the coveted carrying of the torch.
Midwest United was showcased again as the players carried the torch through the stadium and lit the caldron. The fireworks began to fill the sky for a quick, but exciting show.
Rock the CUP, presented by PUMA was a major hit as music sensations Outasight and Chris Rene allowed players, volunteers, staff and fans alike to enjoy a high-energy show. Outasight’s newest song, “Now or Never” was the perfect anthem to end the evening as Opening Ceremonies came to a close.
Opening Ceremonies is just another way USA CUP allows participants to celebrate their goals. The night was filled with goals achieved, from making new friends to a front row seat to a once and a lifetime concert, USA CUP gave players a chance to experience a tournament that is more than just a soccer tournament.
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Tag(s): July 17, 2012