By Katie Rose Turlik
Observed around the world every year on September 21st, the International Day of Peace is dedicated to spreading the idea of peace among all nations and their people. Anyone can celebrate the day in any way, whether in a private setting, a group gathering, or a public event. This year Montgomery College Germantown celebrated the event in a special way, playing soccer games focused on spreading peace and mutual respect.
From noon to 4 p.m. on September 17th, Montgomery College celebrated its sixth annual International Peace Day Soccer Pick Up Games. The games, which included a professional referee, took place on Germantown Campus’ Soccerplex just north of the baseball field. The day started off a little cloudy, but it didn’t last long, and by 12:30 the weather was perfect for soccer.
The person who made this event a reality is MC Germantown professor, Sally McClean, who has taught at Montgomery College for 15 years, teaching both English and Film and Literature. When asked about the outcome of the day Professor McClean said “she thought it was excellent.”
“We started at 12. By 12:15 we had 22 players on the field and we continually had 22 players, with different people going in until five to 4 when we had to close down,” McClean said. By the time the game ended the packed field of 22 people walked off. “It was amazing,” she added.
As to why she believes soccer is a good idea to celebrate the day, Professor McClean explained that it is not only her background with soccer, being the mother of avid soccer fans, but the school’s amazing diversity that helps her to decide to play soccer each year.
“I realized from teaching here that we have many different students from many different countries, and what they all seemed to have in common was soccer. It didn’t matter whether they were African or Hispanic or from the United States, it seemed to be a universal thing, and that would certainly work for International Peace Day,” she told the Globe.
McClean is a member of the three-campus Peace and Justice Studies Community, which sponsored Wednesday’s event. All three campus’s faculty and staff are represented. Professor McClean explained how she, along with several other people, represents Germantown. Each campus celebrates the day with its own event.
“Seven years ago it was decided by the group that soccer might be a good idea, and the only place it took off was here. It became very successful here,” she said.
She explained how soccer is a sport that is very close to her heart. “I think one of the reasons I have so much passion for this sport is not just because I’m a soccer mom, but because when my husband, who taught math here, died seven years ago.’’
“I had a foundation which faculty donated money to his name. I thought what a beautiful thing to use that money for International Peace Day. So I bought equipment. I bought frames, I bought soccer balls, I bought pennies,” McClean added.
McClean also explained that when the foundation’s money ran out several years ago the event was able to continue thanks to money given by the campus provost at the time, Dr. Sanjay Rai, who became this fall Montgomery College’s Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs.
“[Dr. Rai] honored me by playing goalie. He was very much for the soccer games because soccer is big in his country of India.” Germantown’s current provost is Margaret Latimer who came to this year’s game, which McClean described as, “very special.”
When asked if she would like to see any changes for next year she explained how, “eight balls went over onto Observation Drive. I would like to ask facilities if there is anyway in the planning for next year they could think about projecting some type of screen right behind the goalie’s post that could prevent the soccer balls from going onto the road. It is a danger with the balls going down nears car and the students going to get them.”
“Our professional referee told me his rule that the player who kicked the ball into the road had to leave the field and go down and retrieve it themselves. Which is brilliant, because then they are not going to kick that ball so hard,” McClean added.
She also wanted students to remember to bring their cleats. Her plan is to send the student body an email a couple days before next year’s game and remind people to bring their cleats. She says she would love to see those changes and plans to look into them for next year.
Professor McClean went on to thank all who helped make the day possible saying, “There was huge faculty and staff support. They helped by not only helping me with things like water and pizza and sound equipment, but by actually coming to see the games.’’
In addition, two faculty members from the Rockville campus attended the event, McClean said, “which was wonderful.’’
Moreover, Montgomery College Men’s Soccer Coach Pedro Braz and Women’s Soccer Coach Brad Hartin participated in the peace soccer games, offering some of their own equipment, which McClean said “was fabulous.’’
“We also had our own professional student DJ. He stayed for all four hours. The students loved his music. Germantown Mathematics Professor Darren Smith and Germantown Sociology Professor Benedict Ngala gave speeches and played as well,” McClean added.
The day was a great success with everyone who participated having a fantastic time, according to McClean. The date for next year is already set for September 16th and Professor McClean as well as many others are already looking forward to it.