Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – The first ever Anabaptist World Cup will be played on the afternoons of July 22, 23, 24, and 25, as an optional recreational event during PA 2015, the Mennonite World Conference Assembly.
The matches will take place at Logan Field, a community soccer field near Dillsburg, PA, about a 25-minute drive from the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, where PA 2015 will be held.
“Teams will be put together by diversity of age, country, and gender,” explained Howard Good, National Coordinator of PA 2015. No qualifications were requested on the sign-up form, nor were registrants asked about their experience with the game.
“The goal is to have fun playing soccer,” smiles Good, “more than it is about winning and losing. Soccer is a unifying force around the world. That’s our hope for the Anabaptist World Cup!”
In order to play and to be a spectator, one must be a full-time registrant for PA 2015. Each team will play either on Wednesday and Friday, or on Thursday and Saturday. “We don’t want soccer to be an all-consuming event that keeps registrants from going to seminars or on tours, or from joining in the Global Church Village,” remarked Good.
Each afternoon, the first match will be one hour long, followed by a 15-minute break and then a second hour-long match.
The schedule will accommodate either 16 or 24 teams, each with 15-18 players, depending on the number who sign up.
Points will be awarded for each match. The team with the most overall points will be declared the winner.
“We’re going to work hard to keep the Cup fun and not too intense,” he commented. “It’s a bit of a gamble. There won’t be any practices; just some time to warm up and kick the ball around before each game. We’ll have one or two refs on each field to monitor things and keep the game flowing smoothly.
“We’ll be creating a short video that will explain the rules and regulations of the Anabaptist World Cup, which team members will watch while riding the bus to the game. We’ll be playing for fun, but we’ll be generally adhering to FIFA rules.”
Andrew Good and Nick Miller Good, two of Howard Good’s sons and longtime soccer players now living in Philadelphia, are organizing the teams and schedule.
“Each team will have a manager. Part of their job is to help set players’ expectations. These games won’t be professional. They’re for everyone, but we want good aggressive play.
“People who aren’t in great shape can play in areas on the field where there isn’t as much activity, and they can play for shorter periods of time.
“When you’ve got players from up to 50 different cultures playing, with different styles and estimations of success, there’s strong potential for misunderstanding. But the organizers who are helping to put this together are committed to making the Cup a success.
“If this first Anabaptist World Cup works well, I’m sure there will be a second one. César García, MWC’s General Secretary, isn’t a big soccer fan. But Liesa Unger, International Events Coordinator for MWC, is, so she’ll likely make sure it happens again!” said Good.
Spectators are welcome. Although the field has no bleachers, there’s lots of grass and a few trees.
Oh – and each player and spectator gets an Anabaptist World Cup T-shirt as a souvenir.
Article by Phyllis Pellman Good, writer and editor for Mennonite World Conference.