“The opportunity of a lifetime.”
That’s how Philadelphia School District special education teacher Nastassja Falterbauer described Saturday’s Special Olympics Unified Soccer match at RFK Stadium for students at Martin Luther King High School.
Thanks to a partnership between Philadelphia Union, D.C. United and the Special Olympics organization, a 5v5 soccer match between Special Olympics Pennsylvania and Special Olympics District of Columbia will take place immediately following the Union-United match. The two teams will be honored at halftime and then are scheduled to kickoff around 6:15 p.m.
In total, 11 players will make the early-morning road trip to Washington, D.C. The 5v5 match consists of two 15-minute halves. Falterbauer said she hopes the two teams can play again next year at PPL Park, allowing the D.C. players to also have the opportunity to play at another stadium outside of their home city.
“It’s a really great experience for the players,” said Falterbauer, who also serves as team coach. “Opportunities like this don’t present themselves often. It’s great to be able to go to another city and play against other players.”
Falterbauer and her players received the opportunity by winning the Philadelphia Regional district championship. The team was honored at PPL Park at halftime when the Union hosted the Houston Dynamo, Saturday, Sept. 20. But for many of them, all aged 17 or 18, taking in the action was their first MLS experience.
“The kids were elated,” she said. “They had never experienced anything like that – to be able watch them play, be down on the field… they were just in awe of everything.
But now, for a chance to share the same pitch as Union players?
“That excitement of [watching the Union play] is great,” she continued. “But to be able to play at the same stadium is even more incredible. It’s all they talk about.”
This is the first year of the Unified Soccer program within Special Olympics. So it’s a new experience for everyone, not just Falterbauer and the players. And that experience has been just as important for the Philadelphia Union.
“The relationship that has been developed these past six months between MLS Works, Special Olympics DC, Special Olympics PA, DC United and Philadelphia Union has truly been a lesson in camaraderie and single mindedness of purpose,” Rick Jacobs, executive director of the Philadelphia Union Foundation, said.
“That purpose has been to provide an opportunity for young people to share in a common goal while using the game of soccer as a conduit to reinforce all that is good about sport,” Jacobs continued. “We are proud to participate in this inaugural unified match. We are excited because the authentic experience coupled with the inclusive nature of the participants, speaks to who we strive to be each and every day at Philadelphia Union.”
“The Union and MLS have gone above and beyond what we expected them to do. From supplying uniforms and equipment, they’ve really given these players an unbelievable experience. We hope we can make the partnership grow from year to year.”
For more information about Special Olympics Pennsylvania, visit: http://www.specialolympicspa.org/
- Article written by Chris Winkler, Philadelphia Union Communications
Save the Date: Celebrating "True Colors"
Philadelphia Union Foundation Presents the 3rd Annual Cocktails & Cleats
- Date: March 11, 2015
- Location: Vie, Philadelphia
- Time: 6:00 P.M.
- Attire: Festive Cocktail Attire (Sport the Blue & Gold Colors)
Meet Philadelphia Union Players + Technical Staff | Extraordinary Cocktail Hour | Top Shelf Bar | Plated Dinner | Silent & Live Auction | Valet Parking
The Foundation programming is empowering the youth of Chester & Greater Philadelphia Area. Join us on our mission to bridge the gap and make connections for the kids we love.
For ticketing & partnership opportunities, click here
For more information about Cocktails & Cleats contact email@example.com or call event producer, Kathy Swanson, 973-796-4332
Visit PUF website for Cocktails & Cleats event registration in January 2015
We look forward to seeing you on March 11, 2015!
Special Olympics launched a partnership with Major League Soccer (MLS) last fall and the cornerstone of its relationship with them includes a Unified Sports® soccer exchange program. Unified Sports® is an inclusive sports program that puts athletes with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. Through the soccer exchange, Unified soccer teams receive training from MLS players and coaches in preparation for exhibition matches with their Special Olympics counterparts. Each game, scheduled in conjunction with MLS club matches, features Unified Teams from local Special Olympics chapters and takes place immediately following the professional game on the field.
On Saturday, Sept. 27, Special Olympics Pa. (Philadelphia Union team) will take on Special Olympics D.C. (D.C. United team) immediately following the Philadelphia Union vs. D.C. United match at the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington, D.C.
Unified matches provide MLS fans with an opportunity to witness first-hand, the talents and abilities of Special Olympics soccer players. The partnership between Major League Soccer and Special Olympics North America promote awareness, respect, inclusion and acceptance of Special Olympics athletes amongst MLS players, clubs, supporters and partners, creating new participants, coaches, and fans needed to grow the sport of soccer within Special Olympics North America programs.
The Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) Unified Team is comprised of athletes from Chester Upland School District and the School District of Philadelphia.
Join Special Olympics for a fun filled day of soccer on Sept. 27 as the Philadelphia Union takes on D.C. United in two great matches.
What: D.C. United vs. Philadelphia Union / Special Olympics (Pa.) vs. Special Olympics (D.C.) Unified Match
When: Sept. 27th. Starting immediately upon conclusion of the MLS match between the Union and rival D.C. United.
Where: RFK Stadium (http://www.dcunited.com/matchday/stadium/directions-to-rfk-stadium)
Tickets: https://oss.ticketmaster.com/html/go.htmI?l=EN&t=dcunited&o=189&g=2856, use promo code: SODCU14
It’s not everyday that soccer can change lives, but this is exactly what happened Thursday night in Chester.
Anyone that has ever been to a Union game understands the city that the team calls home. PPL Park may be a grandiose architectural marvel but it looks down on a small, urban town that has seen its share of trouble.
Times were hard for Chester in the past, crime was rampant and tension within the community was being reported nationwide, something had to change.
At the same time that Chester was taking a turn for the worse the Philadelphia Union chose Chester as the place where they wanted to start to their soccer journey. This was a monumental decision for the city of Chester because it meant that not only would thousands of people flood their city on weekends, but more importantly there were going to be thousands of jobs now open community members in desperate need of a fresh start.
The “Union” between soccer and Chester was born.
— Philadelphia Union (@PhilaUnion) August 14, 2014
Five years later Chester has proven to be a perfect home for a professional soccer team, and many of Chester’s own work in various positions throughout PPL Park. Since the city has been such a gracious host it was time for the Union to give back to the community it calls home.
This came to fruition on Thursday night when the Philadelphia Union, the Philadelphia Union Foundation, and the Chester-Upland School District partnered to launch the Safe Playground at Showalter School in the heart of Chester.
Basking in the late summer evening air Chester residents and Union staff came together under the necessity to create a safer Chester. The Mayor of Chester John Linder and Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz were on hand to offer words of appreciation for what the soccer team is trying to do for the community.
But the night was truly about the kids.
In places like Chester soccer is rarely the sport of choice, in fact many residents don’t know anything about it because of its lack of exposure to the national market. The Union is looking to change all this for the young people of Chester and starts with things like the Safe Playground initiative. If you ever visit Showalter School the first thing you will see is a field, but this not your typical grade school back yard.
This field has two nets, freshly cut grass, and is enclosed with signs similar to what you would see around the field at PPL, it looks like a youth training ground for a European soccer team.
A field that on Thursday night was teeming with youngsters kicking and chasing soccer balls, a sight that five years ago would have been impossible to see, which makes it all the more beautiful. The residents of Chester looked on with smiles from ear to ear, the air smelled of hot dogs and happiness, it was a moment in the city’s history that may prove to be truly special.
For right now it’s a start, the Safe Playground is a representation of everyone in the city saying no to violence and yes to progression, in the words of Mayor Linder “it’s the perfect representation of unity in the community.”
It’s fitting that the name of the professional soccer team that calls Chester home is the Union because that is just what was on display on Thursday.
A Union that steps outside of the realm of soccer and understands giving back is always a good way to move forward.
Contact Union writer Doug Ammon at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Philadelphia Union Foundation will host a School Supply Drive during the next two home matches on August 9 and August 24. Fans are encouraged to drop off unused school supplies such as notebooks, pens/pencils, binders, paper, scissors, markers and rulers.
- Collections taking place two hours prior to kick and end at kickoff.
- Collection locations: Toyota Plaza and Sons of Ben tailgate area.
- When you donate, you are entered to win a post-game autograph session at a future game.
- Proceeds to benefit City Team Ministries, Chester and their back-to-school carnival on August 23.
In preparation for the Safe Playgrounds Launch on August 14th, the Philadelphia Union Foundation held a Neighborhood Meet and Greet at Showalter Middle School. In conjunction with the City of Chester and the Chester-Upland School District, the Meet and Greet gathered neighbors in Chester and talked about taking back playgrounds in the area and making them safe. The gathering was a huge success with many public figures in attendance:
- Chester Mayor - John Linder
- State Representative - Thaddeus Kirkland
- Chester Community Liaisons - Nicole Cogdell & Jonathan “Rahim” King
- Chester Councilwoman Portia West
- Chester Councilwoman Elizabeth Williams
- District Attorney for Delaware County – Jack Whelan
- Philadelphia Union, VP of Community Affairs – Rick Jacobs
- Philadelphia Union, Manager of Community Affairs – Leah Moore
- Chester City United Founder - Pat Trippley
- Showalter Community Partners
The Foundation continues to make an impact on the places they visit. They were able to create a safety line painted on the streets adjacent to the playground and paint the no parking signs. There will be big changes around the playground in the near future with the installation of three new street lights shining on the park, a new park entrance, newly featured slow down signs and a regular landscaping schedule.
Interested in attending our Safe Playgrounds Launch?
Date: August 14, 2014
Time: 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
Location: Showalter School- 1100 W. 10 Street, Chester, PA
Join the Philadelphia Union Foundation for the launch of Safe Playground on August 14th from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The launch will be held at Showalter School (1100 W. 10th Street, Chester, PA).
The program is run by the Chester City Office of the Community Liaisons, Chester-Upland School District, Philadelphia Union and the Philadelphia Union Foundation.
The evening will include family activities, music and entertainment, a Q&A session and remarks by Mayor Linder and other community representatives.
Date: August 14, 2014
Time: 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
Location: Showalter School- 1100 W. 10 Street, Chester, PA
For more information on the Safe Playground initiative, check out Safe Corridors, the umbrella program for Safe Playground.
He doesn’t have to do it.
For Brent Jacquette, his time could be better served enjoying the moments of his day when he’s not trying to make the Widener men’s soccer team better through recruiting and working on drills. But in addition to doing all of that he’s in the Chester community and its surrounding suburbs working diligently on the Chester-Upland’s "Soccer for Success" program.
Soccer for Success is a program that was started just last year with Jacquette as director to inspire and empower Chester’s youth using soccer as a conduit.
Naturally kids learn how to pass and shoot, but Jacquette and his staff also preach what is called the “four pillars” of success:
- Physical activity
- Family Engagement
The great strides Soccer for Success has made since its inception has now been recognized by Major League Soccer.
On Friday, July 12 the League announced that Jacquette was selected as a finalist for its Community MVP award, given to a community leader that “uses the world’s game to make a difference on a local level,” according to MLS chief administrative officer JoAnn Neale.
In the Soccer for Success program, participants are encouraged to have 60 minutes of physical activity a day, followed by making the correct nutritional choices.
Coaches function as mentors to emphasize teamwork and dedication, while also providing a safe and fun setting. When the hour is up, it is almost impossible to get the kids to wind down and head inside.
Vote Soccer for Success director Brent Jacquette for MLSWORKS Community MVP: http://bit.ly/JacquetteVote
Now you have a chance to show your appreciation for Jacquette’s selfless act of civic responsibility. Fan voting has opened for the MLS Community MVP. Vote now through July 25 using this link: http://bit.ly/JacquetteVote. You can also show your vote of support by copy and pasting this post on Twitter: “I vote for the @MLSWORKS @WellsFargo @PhilaUnion #CommunityMVP”
Voting ends on July 25 at noon. The grand prize winner will be announced on Friday, July 25 at 2pm ET via twitter by @MLSWORKS.
Help us make sure that when the votes are tallied, the winner is Jacquette for all that he does each day in the Chester community.
Philadelphia Union and The Philadelphia Union Foundation will hold their fourth annual River Cup on September 6 at 11:30 a.m., the club announced today. The one of a kind event features the Union front office and technical staff against the Union supporters group, the Sons of Ben, in a spirited match on the pitch at PPL Park. However, this year the fun doesn’t stop when the game ends. Guests are invited to stay and check out the inaugural “Delaware River Craft Brewfest” that will be held on Toyota Plaza as well as cheer on Philadelphia Union as they take on Toronto FC live from Canada on the video board inside PPL Park.
Combination River Cup and Brewfest tickets, as well as individual River Cup tickets, will be available for purchase via or at the PPL Park Box Office. All proceeds from River Cup will benefit The Philadelphia Union Foundation.
“We are about tradition at Philadelphia Union and The Philadelphia Union Foundation,” said Rick Jacobs, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Union Foundation. “That’s why we are so excited to continue the tradition of our River Cup, now in our fourth year. There’s no better way to raise money for our Foundation Building Blocks than partnering with Sons of Ben, the most committed and loyal supporters group in all of MLS.”
The Delaware River Craft Brewfest includes live music and entertainment, gourmet food options, and a variety of vendors, including over 100 breweries. The event will feature a sampling of the best crafts, imports and ciders from the United States and around the world. Samples of limited-release beers such as Goose Island Bourbon County and Scratch Series from Troegs will also be available. Breweries on site include Victory, Troegs, Anchor, Rogue, Full Sail, Evolution, Starr Hill, Long Trail, Goose Island, Old Dominion, Lancaster and Magic Hat.
"The Sons of Ben are again excited to participate in the River Cup with the Philadelphia Union Foundation,” said Sons of Ben President Kenny Hanson. “We are just as equally excited to be a part of raising money for such a great cause, the Philadelphia Union Foundation."
Tickets starting at $35 are available through , by phone at 1-800-298-4200 or in person at the PPL Park box office. Designated Driver Tickets are available at $10. All ticket purchasers must be 21 or older to attend and must present a valid photo ID at the gate. Ticket purchasers during the first week of the on-sale will receive a free commemorative limited edition beer glass.
VIP Session tickets will kick off the festival from 2:00–3:00 p.m. with a special firkin tapping, VIP Parking, and the ability to talk to brewers and taste exclusive beers that will not be served in the general session. General Session will run from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Both VIP and general session tickets will include a souvenir tasting glass.