Annual Awards / Philadelphia Unity Cup

PSP Executive of the Year: Bill Salvatore

 

Photo: Rob Simmons

48 teams.

Over 1,200 players.

Dozens upon dozens of games, scattered around the city of Philadelphia, all free to the public.

A final at Lincoln Financial Field.

An engaging website that helps the public to follow and enjoy the tourney.

Good soccer from the best teams, capped by the Liberian team’s victory in the final.

A powerful statement about who America really is as a nation, a place where immigrants come together first as strangers and competitors but end up as friends on a level playing field.

This is the Philadelphia Unity Cup, hosted in America’s birthplace, the City of Brotherly Love.

For leading the effort to make the Unity Cup a reality, Bill Salvatore is PSP’s Executive of the Year.

Two years ago, the Unity Cup didn’t exist.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney dreamed up the 48-team tourney at a time when a vocal minority of the nation was — and is — questioning America’s historic role as a central hub for immigrants. It is a powerful statement, an important counterpoint to nativist sentiment.

But an idea alone doesn’t make a great event. It requires a great team of people to make it reality and an operations leader to bring it all together.

The person has been Salvatore, the city’s director of parks and recreation.

 

Somehow, Salvatore, Kenney and company found a way to do it at no cost to taxpayers, according to city officials, thanks to a team of volunteers and generous sponsors such as Philadelphia Union, Peco Energy, Goya Foods, Eastern Pennsylvania Soccer Association, Casa Soccer League and more.

Does the tourney have its flaws? Sure. It’s a young event, and they’re still figuring things out. We’ll surely see changes in the future. Maybe the venue for the final will change. Maybe we’ll see more interconnection with local adult leagues to draw more spectators. Who knows? Maybe one day we’ll even see a team comprised of players from the Lenape, Nanticoke and other peoples whose ancestors called this place home long before ours did.

For now, it is without question that the event itself has quickly written itself into the core of the city’s identity.

And it has done so with soccer.

Soccer is just a game, and Salvatore and his team helped all of us use it to highlight what many of us think is the best that America has to offer:

Our open society.

It’s one of those things that makes you proud to be associated with the city of Philadelphia.

Note: In case you missed it, check out Rob Simmons’s photo essay of the Unity Cup final.

5 Comments

  1. I didn’t actually see any of the Unity Cup (my wife can only take so much soccer and going to 20 or so Union games plus watching the road games on TV plus World Cup qualifying is enough for her), but I really like the concept and I think this is a great choice!

  2. Great choice! I worked some of the games as volunteer. Bill was fun to work for. I especially appreciated it when he walked around the freezing field at the end of the Final at the Linc and shook all our hands to thank us. Great individual!

  3. I attended the final at the Linc, it was terrific.

    I really hope it continues and grows. Definitely going to check out some more games next year

  4. Great all. This is fast becoming a very special Philadelphia soccer event.

  5. Eileen Sheridan says:

    Great job, Bill. Is that like employee of the year?

    Nice article, Dan.

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