la adidas trainers ‘VT World Cup’ provides a melting pot experience
The cultural barriers surrounding Virginia Tech’s 2,151 international student population have proved to be an issue at times.
“One of the main questions raised by international students was that they didn’t have an easy way to interact with domestic students,” said Jonathan McCloud, a graduate assistant at the Cranwell International Center.
“There are some things that help to unify cultures; cultures have music, sports, arts, histories and story telling,” McCloud said. “Of those, what’s the most practical way that we can get all of those students together just to talk and mingle?”
This year’s contenders will include 111 international and 87 domestic students, representing a total of 38 countries.
“Deep learning comes from interaction and being active, and we want people to learn about culture,” McCloud said. “Soccer became the one unifying goal, no pun intended.”
The WCEC includes members Steve Oakey, Cristine Burgoyne, McCloud, and Tech assistant soccer coach Michael Brizendine and meets once a week from September through May to plan the tournament. on Friday in the Bowman Room.
The only requirements for participants are that they must be a student, alumni or faculty member of a Virginia college or university, have not played professional or Division One college soccer, and pay a $175 dollar fee devoted to maintenance.
Teams hailing from Sweet Briar College, Virginia Military Institute, New River Community College, Hollins University, James Madison University and Radford University are regulars, and a George Mason coalition has just entered this year.
Twenty teams with 13 man/woman rosters maximum will battle through four 25 minute matches, followed by a seeded single elimination tournament through the finish all to be held on the same day.
“You get a lot of soccer,” Brizendine said.
Fresh off the most successful season in school history and a No. 3 ranking in the final NSCAA/adidas poll, the Tech men’s soccer team is contributing heavily from an administrative standpoint.
If you look closely, you’ll notice the men in referee costumes are actually last year’s College Cup semifinalists.
“It gets really competitive,” said junior midfielder Scottie Dillie. “It’s fun for everyone to get out there and play the game they love, but at the end it gets really competitive . As a referee it gets pretty intense; we have to be on top of our game.”
“I like that (the players) are getting in touch with the student body,” Brizendine said. “These are the people that support us all year long. They come out to our games.”
“(The players) are ref’ing, shagging balls, and in a position where they’re serving the student body, which is always a good position to be in.”
Brizendine played a substantial role in organizing the tournament and convincing James Madison head soccer coach Tom Martin to be the guest speaker at the banquet an event that drew roughly 300 spectators in 2007.
“I wanted to bring someone that was outside of ours that they might’ve heard (of) before,” Brizendine said. “Dr. Martin is an excellent speaker and is one of the most winningest coaches in college soccer.”
“(The banquet) serves as a couple purposes, like getting people to discuss different issues. Regarding soccer it’s something most people know a good thing about,” Brizendine said, before touching on Major League Soccer surpassing their goal of surviving for more than ten years. and how it’s gone up through youth all the way to the professional leagues.”
As soccer’s place in American society expands, culture and soccer could intertwine much as it has elsewhere.
“A lot of teams play together as countries,” Dillie said. “It’s a great opportunity for different groups to come together and play the game they love.”
“One of our defending champions from 2006 is a Central and South American based team,” McCloud said. “And they have a very different way of playing than some of our European American teams . It’s very rhythmic, with a lot of dribbling.”
“And the European American teams have a very offensive oriented team . I’ve heard some of our committee members calling it a long ball team . They like to get the ball downfield, and they have a very fast fashion of play,” McCloud said.
These roots seem to run far deeper than the Virginia Tech’s own timeline.
“I heard that colonies of the British Empire would play against military teams or British national teams, and their style of play was in some way in opposition to their oppression by the British Empire,” McCloud said.
“There’s different cultures playing differently for a very particular reason,” McCloud said. “The way you play soccer becomes very much a part of your cultural identity.”