Once upon a time, or in the summer of 2006, to be more exact, a group of young adults enthusiastic about soccer (yes, the football as the rest of the world calls it) invited a number of their friends from neighboring states for a day of friendly soccer games. That year teams from Rhode Island, Peabody MA, Greenfield MA, and two teams from Manchester NH competed for the champion title. Along with the teams a lot of young people came to Manchester that same day to cheer for their teams and to enjoy the day together. The event went so well, that same time a year later the decision was made to repeat it. And so Church cup was born.
In 2007, the number of participating teams increased to 7. Teams from Washington DC and Maine joined Church Cup competition. Championship took place during one of the hottest days of the summer. Teams were forced to dump buckets of cold water on themselves to stay alive! It was brutal, but thankfully no one passed out or got hurt that day. Trophy went home (or stayed home) with Manchester team for the second year in the row.
In 2008, a team from Philadelphia joined the championship. For the first part of the day, games continued as planned, but when things got close to the final game, which was to be between Philly team and a team from DC, a torrential downpour started. Guests and other teams took a refuge under a nearby gazebo, while finalists decided to carry on the game in the pouring rain. They said, driving for 9 hours, making it to the finals, and not taking the trophy home was not an option. Completely soaked, but satisfied, team from DC took the trophy home.
In 2009, the day of championship greeted us with a pouring rain. All eight participating teams were already in Manchester, and there was no way Church Cup would be cancelled. After a few hours of anxious waiting, and many phone calls, championship was moved to an indoor soccer field. Games went on as planned. At the end of the day, team from Philly was holding the trophy in their hands!
In 2010 the event grew even further. The number of participating teams had increased to nine: Manchester NH, Gorham ME, Greenfield MA, Springfield MA, Providence RI, DC, Harrisburg PA, and two teams from Philadelphia PA. With a larger number of teams participating, games had two take place simultaneously on three fields. Games continued throughout the day. This time the field was equipped with a stage, so those taking a break, or those casually watching could enjoy live music. After a hard day, Manchester once again walked away as the Church Cup champions of the year. The grand finale of the day was a spectacular fireworks show!
Church Cup 2011 took place in the early autumn days of September inside the SportsZone indoor soccer complex. Eight teams, including a new team from Harrisonburg VA (which now holds the record of the longest distance participant in our tournament), came to Manchester to battle for the title of the champion. Games took place simultaneously on two fields. Accommodations were great, spectators even had a chance to get some popcorn and refreshments, while enjoying the games in the air conditioned environment. Also, for the first time ever, Church Cup was featured in the local newspaper Union Leader. After a long and exhausting day, the trophy finally went home with Harrisonburg VA team.
By the year 2012, the number of participating teams grew to ten. With that many teams, preliminary rounds had to go simultaneously on three fields. This was the first time Church Cup ever had that many games going on at once. Two completely new teams joined the tournament: Life Way from Philadelphia, PA and Syracuse Dortmund from Syracuse, NY. Spectators were not disappointed either, because they could enjoy their favorite Pizza Market sandwiches during the lunch break! Also, lunch break was used as an opportunity to share the Gospel with everyone present and to remind each other why we all gathered there. At the end of the day, Syracuse Dortmund NY took the title of champion by beating previous year’s champions in 2:0.
Year 2013 in some regards was similar to the previous year. For the second time in the row the tournament was held at the Rock Rimmon Fields in an absolute perfect weather. Players and spectators were able to enjoy the day which was organized superbly. The reigning champion of the previous year, Syracuse Dortmund NY showed up ready to defend their title by taking the Church Cup home for the second year in the row. This has been accomplished only once in the history of the Church Cup when the host team Manchester United won the tournament in the first two years, namely in 2006 and in 2007. Three-time Church Cup Champion, Manchester United has found itself in an absolute turmoil again repeating its worst result from two years ago when they lost all of their matches. The last time the home team tasted a victory was back in 2010 when they also won their last Cup. Can the team from the Syracuse keep their streak going next year or can the host team rebound remains to be seen.
In 2014 we were blessed with yet another day of a perfect weather and a friendly atmosphere. The geography of participating teams has expanded even further with a team from Erie PA joining the tournament. For the first time ever, the Church Cup was not the only coveted trophy. This year a new award called Fair Play was introduced and was given to the team who demonstrated exemplary character on/off the field throughout the tournament. It went to the team from Harrisonburg, VA. As for the Church Cup itself, the team from Syracuse left no doubt that they are stronger than anyone else by taking the trophy in a dominant style for the 3rd straight year.
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