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Portland Parks & Recreation Presents the Portland World Cup Soccer Tournament July 3 and 4

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Special Guests at Opening Ceremonies, Tournament Runs July 3 and 4th

I have learned that no matter where you are, it is how you respond to the situations in your life and it is your willingness to assess, learn and adapt to situations that will allow you to be successful in life. It is that mindset that allows you to take the lead.

-Eder Mutara

Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) is proud to present this year’s Portland World Cup Soccer Tournament on Thursday, July 3, and Friday July 4, 2014, at Delta Park. The opening ceremonies begin at 9am on July 3, featuring Bhutanese priest Khada Mishra, diversity advocates and special guests including Portland Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz and Portland Parks & Recreation Director Mike Abbaté.

WHAT: The 5th Annual Portland World Cup Soccer Tournament

WHERE: Delta Park, N. Denver Ave. & Martin Luther King

WHEN: Thursday, July 3 and Friday, July 4, 2014; 9am-5pm

Opening Ceremonies begin at 9am Thursday. 17 boys’ teams and six girls’ teams are taking part in the 2014 tournament.

The Portland World Cup Soccer Tournament brings together 350 youth originally from more 22 countries. Many were refugees or are newcomers to both Portland and the US. Crafting a handmade plastic soccer ball is one of the most common ways that youth in refugee camps and poor communities are able enjoy the sport, often in harsh conditions. Eder Mutara, a Portland World Cup Soccer Tournament organizer and player originally from the Congo, recalls his experiences in a Zambian refugee camp known as Mayukwayukwa.

“Living in a refugee camp makes one resourceful. Every day we would play with a ball we crafted from plastic bags and twine,” he says. “It was just as much a part of my day as mealtime. The best thing about this type of ball is that it can be played in any kind of field such as on dry ground, on the street, on the grass field, and pretty much everywhere. In my native language we call a plastic soccer ball “Tshibulundu”. By playing with a Tshibulundu, I was able to keep my mind way from thinking of not having enough food and pure water. I was able to stay out of trouble and focus on making the right decisions.

“In the camp we went without clean water, and often not enough food. People were depressed. I believed that there was hope, and one way I tried to encourage those around me was by getting them involved in sports such as soccer and track. We were without shoes, balls or water to drink. I relied on the spirits of dozens of youth who were able to focus on something other than their immediate situation for a while. Eventually, I moved to America, where I’ve tried to use the same leadership skills learned in soccer to build community by organizing this large tournament through Portland Parks & Recreation.“

Mutara is entering his fifth year as a Portland World Cup Soccer Tournament participant. He spent several years in a refugee camp before moving to Portland with his mother and two brothers. In the fall, he will attend Western Oregon University on a scholarship. Eder speaks seven languages, wrestles, plays football, soccer and plans to study accounting.

The Portland World Cup Soccer Tournament will be held on July 3 and 4 at Portland Parks & Recreation’s Delta Park. The tournament and its associated programs engage underserved and underrepresented immigrant and refugee youth who’ve come to Portland from all over the world, representing nearly two dozen ethnicities and cultures. This event is an important celebration of diversity, family, partnership, and integration in Portland. There are 16 boys’ teams and five girls’ teams taking part in the 2014 tournament. Registration is closed for this year.

“When we talk about ‘closing the play gap’ here in Portland, we mean providing for people who need parks, recreation and play the most,” says Portland Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz. “The Portland World Cup Soccer Tournament and its related activities help foster awareness about what our city offers for people new to Portland – athletic, educational, career opportunities and more - through the international language of football - also known as soccer here in Portland.”

“The Portland World Cup Soccer Tournament is about much more than a game,” says Polo Catalani of the Office of Equity and Human Rights. “It’s about investing our efforts now to embrace the changing face of our city, about integrating people new to both Portland and the United States into our society and our quality of life, and about showing them how to take part in democracy.”

Catalani notes that one in five Portlanders are now foreign-born, and nearly half of area public school students belong to ethnic minority families. In many underserved north and east Portland neighborhoods, these percentages are even higher.

The Portland World Cup Soccer Tournament helps youth get past the challenges of being a teen, and a newcomer to Portland. It fosters peace, understanding, and the embracing of other cultures.

Perhaps nothing could be more American.

Thank you to our valued partners

Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization (IRCO)

David Douglas School District

Office of Equity and Human Rights

The Oregon Bhutanese community

The African Youth Council of Oregon