The Dallas Cup, during its past thirty years of competition, has become one of the world’s most prestigious international youth soccer tournaments. World famous soccer clubs such as Real Madrid, Manchester United, Sao Paulo, River Plate, AC Milan, Ajax, Liverpool, Moscow Dynamo, Chelsea, CD Guadalajara, and Eintracht Frankfurt and many others have all sent youth teams to compete in the week long tournament. International soccer stars David Beckham, Raul, Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen, Robinho, Landon Donovan, DeMarcus Beasley, Jamie Moreno,
The Dallas Cup, during its past thirty plus years of competition, has become one of the world’s most prestigious international youth soccer tournaments. World famous soccer clubs such as Real Madrid, Manchester United, Sao Paulo, River Plate, AC Milan, Ajax, Liverpool, Moscow Dynamo, Chelsea, CD Guadalajara, and Eintracht Frankfurt and many others have all sent youth teams to compete in the week long tournament. International soccer stars David Beckham, Raul, Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen, Robinho, Landon Donovan, DeMarcus Beasley, Jamie Moreno, Kleberson, Rafael Garcia, and Claudio Reyna, to name a few, have all participated in the Dallas Cup with their youth clubs.
Star teams and players, TV and radio appearances by the young stars of tomorrow, large attendances at the games; all of these are one side of the news, but there is “the other side of the news” that does not perhaps attain the headlines, the publicity, or the admiration and attendance of the fans. Over the years the Dallas Cup has invited what tournament officials refer to as “Special Teams” to participate in the tournament. They are not well known clubs and these teams are often unable to afford the cost of the travel, accommodations, and food to attend the tournament without some assistance. To enable the Dallas Cup to host these teams, one of the unique aspects of the Dallas Cup that sets us apart from many other tournaments is our “HomeStay Program.” Local Dallas teams that participate in the tournament act as hosts to visiting international teams. These Dallas families provide food and lodging for the visiting boys and through their generosity it enables the “Special Teams” as well as many other international teams playing in all of the different age groups from the Super Group to under 13 to participate in the Dallas Cup. Thanks to this program, life long friendships have been made and many Dallas teams have had the opportunity to visit the countries of the teams that they have hosted.
Because of the opportunities presented by the HomeStay Program, these special teams are the teams that best fulfill the mission of the Dallas Cup. The Dallas Cup is committed “to promote the well being of young people through athletic competition, cultural appreciation and educational opportunities.” As stated the Dallas Cup is not just about some of the finest youth soccer teams coming to the tournament each year. It is in accordance with its mission statement to bring together the “youth of the world” for an athletic competition and most importantly cultural appreciation and educational opportunities. None meet these requirements more than the Knowsley Boys’ Youth Team a team from the suburbs of Liverpool, England. Commenced eighteen years ago by Dave Mercer of the Knowsley City Council. Each year 400 boys are selected as potential team members chosen not only for their soccer abilities but also for their educational and social achievements. Any inappropriate behavior or a drop in their educational standard and they are eliminated from selection. The final 18 boys selected, along with the City Mayor and members of the City Council, journey to Dallas each year to represent the City of Knowsley. Over the years many of these Knowsley boys have caught the eye of American college soccer coaches attending the tournament and have been given soccer scholarships thus gaining an education and an experience that would not be possible if it were not for the Knowsley/Dallas Cup connection. In 2007 a record number of nine Knowsley boys were offered college scholarships in the US.
In 2007, thanks to a local Dallas oilman, Mr. Albert Huddleston, whose company has oil operations in Iraq and offices in Baghdad informed us that he wished to bring an U14 Iraq National boys team to compete in the Dallas Cup. Following lengthy negotiations, and with thanks to US Government offices in Baghdad, the US State Department, the United States Soccer Federation, the Iraq Soccer Federation, and the generosity of Mr. Huddleston all the necessary visas, air flights, transportation, and our HomeStayProgram were in place for the first ever Iraq boys’ team to visit the USA. An excellent young soccer team that was unfortunate to lose in the semi-final of the U14 age group showed a high standard of play and the joy that they expressed on the field attracted the support of many of the Dallas soccer fans. A week of fun for the boys, a welcome from the Dallas community, and another success for the Dallas Cup in bringing the youth of the world together in a truly enjoyable atmosphere.
The name of Nobel Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, winner is synonymous with nothing but the good in the world today. His work in bringing together the people of South Africa following the end of Apartheid plus his efforts to assist the bringing together of all races, colors, and creeds in South Africa is known worldwide. In 1999 contact was made with Archbishop Tutu’s office and talks were commenced to bring a young multi-racial team from Cape Town to Dallas Cup. As always with such a project, it takes time to put all the parts in place but success was achieved in 2000 and the first South African team took advantage of the HomeStay Program and arrived in Dallas to enter the tournament. Thanks to Archbishop Tutu’s continued support, his team has played here every year since that date. The leader of the team, Basil Palanyandi, has also become a good friend of the Dallas Cup and each year we enjoy his reunion with so many Dallas soccer friends and of course the opportunity to welcome the new Cape Town team. Thank you Basil and of course Archbishop Tutu who assists us in making their team’s visit possible.
In 2005 a call from London regarding a BBC TV broadcast of the Simon Peres program in Israel to bring Israeli and Palestinian children together through education and sport started the Dallas Cup on one of its most memorable and emotional projects in the history of the Dallas Cup to date. Contact with the Simon Peres Peace Center was made through the soccer federations of both England and Israel and following months of planning an Under 12 Peace Team consisting of nine Israeli boys and nine Palestinian boys as well as two Israeli coaches, two Palestinian coaches and two Peace Center officials were invited to Dallas Cup XXV. A HomeStay Program with one Israeli boy and one Palestinian boy staying with one American U12 boy’s family brought about a truly marvelous week for those boys. For ten days there was no fear of a falling bomb, a rocket attack, or a shooting. There was just the opportunity to play soccer, to visit Texas places of entertainment, a Texas Rangers’ baseball game, a pool party, and a barbeque. To be young boys having fun together. Two nationalities, whose adults unfortunately have problems in living together but these boys were able to live together, play together, and compete on the soccer field for ten days without a care in the world. The Simon Peres Center and the Dallas Cup coming together to let these young U12 boys just be boys. In an interview on Dallas TV, a young Palestinian boy, when asked by the interviewer how was he getting on with his Israeli roommate replied “When I came, he was my enemy but now he is my friend.” That statement is one of the most memorable moments in the history of the thirty years of the Dallas Cup. This simple yet powerful statement is what the “DALLAS CUP EXPERIENCE” is all about.