People of the Planet
Players from around the world, representing a plethora of
cultures, will converge on Watauga High School Sunday, April 7, for the seventh annual People of the
Planet Soccer Tournament.
The tournament, presented by Appalachian State University, will feature soccer matches for both youth and adult players in the spirit of sportsmanship and what the event is really about: cultural diversity.
“It is an amazing event where youth and adults appreciate the opportunity to have fun and learn about people of the world,” said Rahman Tashakkori, co-chairman of the organizing committee for the tournament. “Last year, we had players from more than 40 different countries representing at the tournament.
“The event is made possible by efforts of many volunteers from Appalachian State University and Watauga High School, as well as sponsorship from the community.”
Local players representing Watauga County and ASU will also join the mix of unique skill sets and talents taking to the field in the coming weeks.
WHS provides the fields and facilities for the tournament, said Watauga High School Pioneers’ men’s soccer coach, Woody McKay.
“For the past three years, since we’ve had such good athletic facilities with two turf fields we can play on, the high school has been the site and sponsor for the celebration,” McKay said. “At the old high school, we didn’t have the field space. Now, we have the ideal situation, with two fields close together with easy access.”
McKay said the tournament began to “help people realize the great diversity” that is in the community.
“When you look around, you don’t realize how many nationalities there are in Watauga County,” he said.
As soccer continues to grow internationally, so does it locally.
The county’s recreation department has also played a role in helping the sport cultivate a fan base and new players, McKay said, as the tournament also garners attention for the sport.
“Since it is an international sport, it brings people together,” he said. “The high school is proud to be able to support this (the tournament).”
In addition to the four adult teams fielded for the tournament, organizers have secured matches for youth players, both boys and girls, for age groups 5 to 14.
All players will receive a custom-made jersey for the tournament, which is free of charge.
Matt Nelson, men’s soccer head coach at ASU, said the tournament presents many opportunities to not only his players, but also the community in general.
“The men’s soccer program at App brings players out to the tournament to get them to do some refereeing, and it’s also a way for the players to interact with the kids at the college who have an interest in soccer and with kids from around the world who have an interest in the sport. It’s our way of giving back to the kids a little bit.”
Nelson also sees the game of soccer as tool to bring many together people from various walks of life.
“The sport is multi culture,” said Nelson. “That’s the beauty of it. You can take a soccer ball to any country in the world and not have anything in common with people, but in every country there are players who know the sport of soccer.”
How to Get Involved
Specific match times and more can be found online at http://www.cs.appstate.edu/soccer. Youth players are required to register online, the deadline for which is March 22.
To register, or for more information, contact Rahman Tashakkori at (828) 262-7009 or (firstname.lastname@example.org)