Junior Peace Cup Soccer Tournament Held Inaugural Tournament in Las Vegas
Las Vegas, NV – The Inaugural USA Las Vegas Junior Peace Cup Soccer Tournament was held on January 16, 2017, at the Las Vegas Sportspark in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The tournament included 6 divisions of soccer with ‘Champions’ and ‘Finalists’ awarded for each division. The event came about initially out of Ward 5 Chamber of Commerce President and UPF Las Vegas Chairwoman, Katherine Duncan’s passion for celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day in a meaningful way. In connecting with the LV Sounders Soccer Club, the idea of a Junior Peace Cup Tournament came up.
Realizing that the Peace Cup was a cherished project of the late Dr. Sun Myung Moon, the partnership expanded to the Universal Peace Federation Las Vegas. LV Sounders Coach, Ricky Towers, Jr., organized teams to participate in the tournament and oversaw many details of the event. Thirty-two (32) teams participated with a total of 384 players from ages 8 to 16 years old, boys and girls. Each team played 3 times in the competition. Ricky Towers, Sr. was an emcee for the event who also led the singing of the American national anthem. Mrs. Leslie Rigney, UPF Nevada Executive Director, encouraging “Let the Games Begin”. The games were played simultaneously on several soccer fields, including an indoor soccer field. Families of players and soccer avid supporters stayed much of the day in the cool weather, watching the games.
Thanks to the generous financial support of Family Education and Empowerment Foundation (FEEF) and Mimi Morse, the Universal Peace Federation of Las Vegas, Century 21 Real Estate, Caesar’s Entertainment, Primerica, Project Neon, Berkshire Hathaway, Creative International LLC, Dem Noles Bois, The Painters Union, Ward 5 Chamber of Commerce and many other supporters and vendors. Medals were awarded to players from both champions and finalists while beautiful trophies were awarded to ‘Champion’ and ‘Finalist’ teams. A display trophy was also created where the winning teams would be listed and the trophy displayed in a public place.
Rosemary Flores with “Waking Up As One Nation” organized entertainment indoors which included Morelense Cultural Group, Entertainer Little J. Gambino, Rose Love, Sparkle SBFUG Project, Stephanie Thompson, and Thumpasaurus. There were vendor tables and raffles for Lake Mead Cruises for those who visited each table. Several participants were so lucky and happy to receive the free cruise. Food vendors provided food all day and Georgette Dante gave free face painting, sponsored by FEEF.
Before the final game of the senior division, a young man Nixon Lopez sang the National Anthem afterwards, Rev. Ken Doo, the Senior Pastor of FFWPU Las Vegas gave a special message. He spoke how important soccer was Dr. Moon, who founded the original Peace Cup Soccer in Korea. Rev. Doo said that soccer is a healthy activity for young people and that healthy individuals help to create a healthy nation. He especially mentioned of the founder’s interest in soccer, that the games bring people together in a team who unite together to win, and that this unity can be a foundation for bringing peace in the community and in our world. Indeed, each team in our tournament composed of various races and nationalities, with boys and girls, all playing together.
Three (3) Ambassadors for Peace were appointed, who exemplified both Dr. Moon and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s vision for peace: Minister Stretch Sanders, a young African-American Minister who serves the Homeless, Naweed Yusufzai, Muslim UNLV student who stepped out in courage to show that love is more prominent in peoples’ hearts than hatred, and Tygel Pinto, a Navajo young man who brings peace through his music and love for the creation.
Our vision is to expand the soccer to inner-city communities and bring this healthy sport to all the young people in Las Vegas, breaking down barriers of ethnic, socioeconomic differences and offering character building, peace education, as well. The Tower father and son tandem are deeply committed to work with us on this venture! And especially thanks to Katherine Duncan for her passion for starting the Junior Peace Cup to Las Vegas!
Contributed by: Leslie Rigney, UPF Nevada Executive Director with James Rigney