Brazil was not the only team making history on Sunday as they closed the Olympic games scoring a historic goal winning them the gold. The churches of God in Florida also scored a historic first place at the 2016 East Coast Soccer Tournament in New Windsor, NY. With eight teams consisting of members from more than 40 different churches of God along the East Coast, it was bound to be an intense tournament. As many of the players had been practicing for months, their competitive spirit was definitely on the field.
Members of every Church of God on the East Coast arrived in waves early Sunday morning and filled up the field. It was perfect weather as the bright summer sun rays glistened on the New Windsor Church soccer field. A combination of players from different regions made up each team that was set to play:
• Upstate New York: New Windsor, Albany, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse
• New York City: Manhattan, Queens and Long Island
• North Jersey: Ridgewood, Bogota and Belleville
• New England: Boston, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Maine
• Florida: Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville
• NJ Penn: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Central/East Jersey
• D.M.V.: Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia
• N.C. & V.A.B.: Charlotte, Durham and Virginia Beach
Pastor Daniel Lee kicked off the day by delivering encouraging words for everyone to “put some pep in their step.” Quoting Romans 10:15, he said, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” The words reminded everyone that soccer isn’t the only activity requiring skillful use of the feet. The Bible also tells us to be ready to follow the example of Christ and preach the words of God, especially to those who have not yet heard. The soccer tournament also served as a resolution to expand the Church of God to more places not only on the East Coast but also abroad.
Following the opening ceremony, everyone was excited to get the games started. Teams gave it their all to become the victors in the quarterfinals and semifinals. Values such as being united and possessing good sportsmanship were fundamental to having quality matches. As the players tried their hardest to win the games for their regions, cheer squads were positioned up and down the sidelines chanting encouraging words to the players on the field.
In the final game, North Jersey and Florida went head to head for the championship title. After a gnawing nail biter, Florida fought their way through to win the game 2—1 and became the 2016 East Coast Soccer Tournament champions.
During the closing ceremony, the winning team, Florida, was given congratulatory remarks for their heroic effort, even after traveling such a long way to participate in the tournament. Regardless of their teams’ outcome, all the players were encouraged through the day’s events. All Church members felt the exuberant love of the heavenly family and are looking forward to the next event when all the East Coast Churches will come together again.