Pictured: Alex Russell and Nick Grimes
By Rachel Taylor, Editor in Chief
Founded nine years ago by Sally McClean, this year’s Soccer for Peace took place the afternoon of Wednesday, September 27 at Montgomery College Germantown. Soccer for Peace is an event celebrating the International Day of Peace that aims to bring the Montgomery College community together through soccer.
The afternoon began with some remarks from the provost Margaret Latimer, who thanked people for coming and noted that Soccer for Peace was “a great way to bring all those nationalities together.”
Nick Grimes is from England and works at the snack bar in the PK building, but has lived in the United States for 39 years. Grimes also spoke briefly. “This isn’t about winning at all costs,” he said, and asked for people to “play with fairness” and “play with integrity.” He challenged McClean’s opinion that soccer is a peaceful sport, saying that it isn’t as peaceful in England.
People who wanted to play soccer were required to sign a photo release form as well as a form stating they would not sue the college if they were injured while playing. They were then assigned onto the teams they would play for. For the entirety of Soccer for Peace’s history, Michael Greenwood from the Metropolitan Washington Soccer Referees Association has refereed the games.
Gloria Barron is one of the organizers of Soccer for Peace and has been involved with the event for three years. Last year, she took over organizing from Sally McClean. Barron said that to her, peace means “getting along,” accepting and understanding one another. “Holding grudges is one of the worst things to do,” she said. Barron also mentioned that children should be taught acceptance, not hate.
In the past few years, Soccer for Peace has been able to grow due to financial contributions from various departments at Montgomery College. Soccer for Peace has received much support from the Montgomery College community; in addition to the financial help, the college’s soccer teams from Rockville come up to Germantown to participate in the event.
Soccer for Peace has helped bring people together and form new friendships. Last year’s event led to one volunteer, Alex Russell, creating his own informal soccer team with people he met while participating. This was his second year participating in Soccer for Peace and he considers it to be “one of the best experiences ever.”
“It’s such a great way to get the whole school together,” and it “brings the sport to life,” Russell said. Russell also has English heritage and developed a friendship with Grimes over their shared enjoyment of soccer. Russell had worn his favorite team’s jersey (the Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspur F.C.), which Grimes noticed and sparked the beginning of their friendship.
Grimes has played soccer for the majority of his life, from age six to 63. “One of my loves is soccer,” he said. His favorite team is AFC Bournemouth from his native England. This was the first year he was able to participate in Soccer for Peace because he was able to take off from work. Although the sport is called football in England, Grimes has conformed to calling it soccer due to living in the US. “We can be united by soccer,” he said of Soccer for Peace.
Giles Beven is on the Rockville soccer team and came up to Germantown to participate in Soccer for Peace. He is also from England and his favorite team is Chelsea FC. “It’s a really good atmosphere,” he said of Soccer for Peace. “It’s a good thing to have, everyone coming together,” he said, considering all the violence that happens in the world.
40 pizzas were ordered and an Italian ice cart was also present to serve food to participants and volunteers. Although it initially seemed like too much pizza was ordered, by the end of the event, all the pizza had been eaten. In addition to the soccer games, a raffle was held and one of the prizes was a bookstore gift card worth $100.
As Soccer for Peace was well underway, David Sowards, another one of the organizers, remarked “I think it’s going great,” although next year he would like to form a committee to begin planning the event two months in advance. The date of next year’s event is set for September 26, 2018.