Local

Local pro, semipro clubs to play Sandy Hook benefits in West Chester

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Three local soccer clubs will join a Connecticut side in playing charity matches to benefit community services in Newtown, Connecticut, where a 2012 school shooting left 20 children dead.

Bethlehem Steel FC, Reading United and West Chester United will be joined by amateur side Newtown Pride in playing a pair of friendlies in West Chester on June 27. The event will also feature a soccer clinic by the Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association and other amenities, food trucks, bounce houses for children and other activities.

All proceeds will go to Newtown Youth and Family Services, which works with peer mentoring groups in Newtown and helped over 1,200 people after the school shooting.

The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was just one of many mass shootings that have marred the American landscape over the last 20 years, but it is widely considered one of the most shocking. Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza walked into the school and fatally shot 20 children and six school employees before turning the gun on himself. He killed his mother prior to the school attack.

“It’s a horrible tragedy that the community has suffered and continues to live with, and any opportunity for us to alleviate any of their anxiety in some small way is something we welcome and take pride in participating in,” Bethlehem head coach Brendan Burke said. “When you look at how soccer helped Brazil and the communities impacted when the plane carrying the Chapecoense soccer team went down in 2016, killing 71 of 77 aboard, it just shows what soccer can do at its best. The game changes lives, and I hope that by doing our part to help Newtown that our players will be able to take this experience and bring it to their communities by showing that they can help others through our sport.”

Newtown Pride plays in the adult amateur Connecticut Soccer League, where it went unbeaten this season. It will play for the league title on June 25.

Bethlehem, Reading and West Chester all play at higher tiers of the American soccer pyramid. Bethlehem is a second division professional club playing in the United Soccer League and, as an affiliate of Philadelphia Union, often features players on loan from the Union. Reading plays in the fourth tier Premier Development League and is also a Union affiliate, while West Chester joined the fourth tier NPSL this year after winning the 2015 USASA national championship.

The games begin at 6 p.m. at WCUSC Turf Field at 601 Westtown Rd, in West Chester.

Adults are asked to donate $5 for admission, while children enter for free. All children are asked to wear local team jerseys to show their team pride for Newtown.

One Comment

  1. Dan C (formerly of 103) says:

    Some idiot on the internet somewhere will claim that this games was never played…..

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