While soccer is a game of strategy, it is also a game of passion—passion is a soccer player's best friend and worst enemy. It can motivate us to realize our dreams, but it can also become our worst nightmare.
Even though it may temporarily blind one's judgement and emotions, passion always leaves the window open for adaptability and redemption. That's the beautiful thing about passion.
And with the return of New York City's World Cup, this year's Cosmos Copa NYC 2011 will be full of passion.
If last year's finale between Poland and Jamaica, in which Poland was victorious after prevailing 5-3 in penalties, was a classic, imagine how competitive this year's tournament may be.
The event, an amateur-adult soccer tournament founded in 2009 by Spencer Dormitzer and Chris Noble and formerly recognized as "Copa NYC," will this year feature 30 New York-based teams, 29 winners, and one champion, each representing their countries in their quests to hoist the Cosmos Cup. The winning team will be declared the "Cosmos Copa City Champion," heroes whose ethnic community can be proud.
Even though only one team will be declared champion, all 30 teams will have plenty to be proud of because their participation helps build the tradition of this marvelous tournament.
Along with passion, however, comes commitment.
On Wed., April 27, 2011, the defending-champion NYC Poland helped kick off this year's Cosmos Copa launch reception at the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in New York.
It was at this event where representatives of this year's participating teams made a commitment not only to compete, but also to represent their communities.
That was the night in which I promised some of the teams that I would learn about the Cosmos Copa through their eyes.
So I contacted Dormitzer, Noble and the New York Cosmos and told them about my initiative. They were more than open to the idea and provided me the paperwork explaining the rules and process for becoming a team.
Introductions were made after that, leading me to spend many Friday Nights and a few Saturdays and Sundays watching plenty of soccer.
So what did I learn?
I learned that whether you're the president, a manager, a coach or a player, you're making a sacrifice to be part of the team.
While the tournament maybe diverse, the DNA structure of each team is fascinatingly similar.
If you remove the team names, you have individuals who are "nine-to-fivers," college students, sons, daughters, parents, husbands and wives who come together from various locations within the tri-state area to become the best teams for their communities.
In layman's terms, they're you and I.
Not only are they passionate about soccer, but they've also made the commitment to make time for their countries and teams.
While the professional leagues are entertaining to watch, the real passion comes from the average person.
If you've ever volunteered to coach a team, you know it's not an easy position. From taking the time to contact players to submitting team applications while maintaining constant communication with players, team administration, and the Cosmos Copa organizers, it's a position that requires many hours and a lot of coffee.
The same could be said for the players who are not only committing to their Cosmos Copa teams. Some are currently competing in their respective leagues while working full-time jobs or attending college—and in the case of some, both.
With the tournament kicking off this weekend, twenty-two teams will be competing for the final eight spots.
The action begins at 8:30 a.m. on Sat., June 18 at the Parade Grounds in Brooklyn, NY and will conclude the next day at the College of Staten Island.
The final eight teams from this weekend's Cosmos Copa action will face the eight teams that have already qualified from July 9-24 at the Corona Park Fields in Flushing Meadows, Queens.
Before the action this weekend arrives, I want to take a moment to thank all 30 Cosmos Copa teams for allowing me to learn about their dedication and the sacrifices that they've made. I also want to thank Spencer and Chris of the Cosmos Copa and the New York Cosmos organization for granting me permission to embark on this journey.
I especially want to thank the Borough Boys, 5 Points Press and Chris Dobens of TotalFootBlog.com because the enthusiasm and dedication they've already demonstrated for this special project that we're working on is going to be a sure winner.
So if you're in New York City or you plan to visit...please make an effort to support the Cosmos Copa NYC 2011 because this one will be a classic.
To find out if your Country is being represented, please go to www.cosmoscopa.com. You may also follow the latest Cosmos Copa news on Twitter at @CosmosCopa and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/cosmoscopa.
Cesar Diaz covers Soccer for LatinoSports.com. He also writes for 5 Points Press & USSoccerPlayers.com; your source for American Soccer news brought to you by members of the U.S. National Team. Easily accessible, you may reach Cesar at firstname.lastname@example.org and at Twitter at @CoveringSoccer.