University dorms house Schwan’s USA Cup players

by Sean McCoy

Emilliano Moralez wore a blue and white shirt on his head and beat on a snare drum with two drum sticks. With his teammates dancing in front and behind, the 17-year-old Argentinian left fullback marched slowly across the oval track.
On the infield was a sea of soccer players; reds, blues and greens all meshed to form a vibrant, noisy body of about 14,000 of the world’s best youth soccer players.
Many are sharing quarters with University students.
The 15th annual Schwan’s USA Cup, touted by organizers as the largest youth soccer tournament in the Western hemisphere, held its opening ceremony Saturday at the National Sports Center Stadium in Blaine, Minn. The tournament, with players from 23 countries and 33 states, continues through Saturday.
About 1,000 players are staying in Frontier, Centennial and Territorial halls during the week-long tournament. Some players and coaches say the dorms are a good alternative to hotels.
The University dormitories are less expensive than hotels, costing about $300 to house, feed and transport one team member. Juan Rojas, the coach of Club America from Mexico City, said that if they had been in a hotel, it would have been more like $650.
“We have been coming here for seven years,” said Ian Padial, a player in the San Juan Sporting Club from Puerto Rico. “It’s a great time to meet other teams. We’ve met people from Mexico, Argentina, Minnesota, the states … on our floor are the Brazilians and Columbians.”
Yet while the soccer players are enjoying the party atmosphere in the dorms, residents must tolerate the short-term residents and their antics.
“You can tell which teams have lost by who is hanging out in the lobby at two or three in the morning,” said Anthony Osiname, a senior in the College of Liberal Arts and Centennial Hall resident. “Fortunately, they have their own wing. It does make it harder (to study), but the kids are relatively respectful of the quiet zones in the study lounge and computer labs.”
Despite the disturbances, Osiname called the event a “nice blend of cultures.”
And while the players are focusing on winning the tournament, a group of security monitors is focusing on keeping the players out of trouble. Eva Castellanos, who works as security for the dorms, called the event “a little chaotic.”
“Watching the kids is difficult because of the different ages,” Castellanos said. “Hormones at this age are a key factor. It is difficult to let them have fun and still be safe.”
But regardless of risks, Jose Maria Mu¤oz, a professional referee from Chile, explains that the week-long tournament is about more than soccer; it’s a learning experience.
In a lyrical Chilean-Spanish accent, he said how traveling and meeting people from other cultures humanizes the individual and helps build an understanding of the philosophical “other.” What the players, coaches and parents have in common is soccer, but through sharing traits that are so different they have their eyes opened to new perspectives.
According to Carmen Salavarrieta, a mother of a soccer player from New Jersey, the children make friends, exchange addresses with people from other states and exchange e-mails with people from other countries.
“We appreciate it very much,” Salavarrieta said. “It’s the first time we have been here and we would like to come back.”