Joselo Lucero summed up the day well.
“One of the best things you can do is just play, to be better people, just getting along,” said Lucero, who’s brother Marcelo Lucero, a fellow Ecuadorian immigrant, was murdered in a 2008 hate crime in Patchogue.
“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from, it’s about who can play better today,” he said.
And so began the Play for Peace soccer tournament at the Sipp Avenue Soccer Fields in Medford, in honor of his brother.
The seventh annual event, which is organized by Suffolk County Legislator Rob Calarco and his staff, puts men’s and women’s soccer teams from Hispanic and English-speaking backgrounds on the same fields.
“The purpose of the tournament is to bring people together, to get them interacting,” Calarco said. “What you will always find, as soon as you get people of different background communicating with one another, and talking with on another, they realize they have a lot in common.”
Though Calarco said he’s not sure if the Hispanic and English-speaking soccer participants get together for games on other days of to the year, he has noticed a spike in Spanish-speaking players enrolling their kids in the Patchogue-Medford Youth Soccer League.
“Just because now they know this is all here,” he said. “These are mint fields and it’s a great thing.”
“This is our community,” said Jonathan Abrams of Gershow Recycling of Medford, a tournament sponsor. “We work here. We live here, and communities are all about unity, not separation. So this is about coming together.”
When the day is done, one team each from the men’s and women’s brackets would be awarded championship trophies.
First photo: Joselo Lucero addresses the players before Saturday’s games. (Credit: Michael White)