Team NASA crowned 2016 Global Cup champions
Following a postponement forced by a severe thunderstorm on the previous Saturday, the 2016 Global Cup Soccer Tournament resumed on Saturday, September 24, with the semifinal and final rounds of play. The afternoon was dominated by a determined Team NASA, which first surprised defending champion, Team Oman, 4 – 0 in the semifinal round, and then overcame a talented Team Saudi Arabia 4 – 1 to gain the championship and claim the Global Cup trophy.
What became a long road to the Global Cup championship began on Saturday, September 17. Despite periodic rainstorms in the morning, ten hopeful teams gathered at the Kent State Soccer Fields at 1:00 to pair up for the first elimination round of play. Throughout the afternoon, the teams played under threatening skies and even a slight drizzle at times. Each of the ensuing five games provided moments of excitement, fast-paced action and spirited play.
The most dramatic match of the day was a hard-fought game between Team NASA and Team Africa. Both teams were evenly matched and the score seesawed back-and-forth as neither team could achieve a decisive advantage. But with the scored tied at 2 – 2 late in the second quarter, Team NASA broke through the tight defense of Team Africa to orchestrate a third and final goal as the seconds ticked down to triumph 3 – 2.
The other teams, which prevailed in the opening round, were Camerica 5 – 1 over Iraq, Saudi Arabia 4 – 0 over Nepal, Europe 4 – 0 over India and defending champion Oman 4 – 0 over Asia.
Because five teams remained after the first round, a penalty kick playoff was necessary to eliminate one of the teams to bring the number to a more manageable four prior to the start of the semifinal round. After all of the kicks were completed, an unlucky Saudi Arabia team found themselves eliminated from further play – at least until the rains came.
And came they did. Just as the first match of the semifinal round got underway, skies which had been threatening all day finally let loose a torrent of rain, lightning and thunder as the teams and attendees scrambled for shelter. As the rain continued, the teams consulted with KSU Rec Services, which together determined that further play that day could not be completed due to possible injuries to the players on the slick field and the resulting damage to the field itself. Play would have to resume the following Saturday.
One casualty of the postponement was a dejected Team Camerica, which had to forfeit their semifinal position, because they would be unable to assemble on the next Saturday due to academic priorities. As a result, a delighted Team Saudi Arabia was inserted back into the semifinal round.
Unlike the previous Saturday, the four teams included in the semifinal round – Teams Europe, NASA, Oman and Saudi Arabia – were greeted with blue skies, plenty of sun and moderate temperatures, a near-perfect day to complete a soccer tournament. Besides the semifinal and final games, one additional match was held that afternoon between Teams Europe and Oman – both of which lost their semi-final matches – to determine a third-place finisher for the tournament. In a spirited game, Oman outlasted Europe 2 – 1.
Following the day’s matches, gold, silver and bronze Global Cup medals were given to the top three teams – NASA, Saudi Arabia and Oman respectively – and the Global Cup trophy was presented to the champions.
“The tournament was really great fun,” exclaimed Angela Schwarzer, student advisor for the Office of Global Education who planned and staged the event. “The level of play was really terrific and all the participants competed in a very professional, respectful manner. Everybody had a great time.”
Despite their determined competition while on the field, the players genuinely enjoyed the opportunity to make new friends and acquaintances, which the tournament encouraged. “The tournament was very exciting. I think all the students that participated in this tournament had a great opportunity communicating and connecting with other members of their team,” explained Team Europe team member, Magd Abdulmalek Mohammed Al Harbi. “I personally got to know my team members more and I think I will hang out and see them a lot because this tournament gave us a chance to know each other and revealed mutual activities that we can be doing together in the future. I hope there to see more of activities like this in the future organized by OGE.”
Although most of the ten teams were comprised of individuals who hailed from the country or region designated by the team’s name, Team NASA was one of two teams – Camerica being the other – which hosted team members from diverse locations. “People have asked us what NASA means and it is an acronym for North American, South America, Northern Africa and Southern Africa,” explained one team member. “Because we have teammates from all those regions.” Camerica apparently was a mash-up of Cameroon and America. Even Team Europe included teammates from outside the European Union.
- Camerica 5, Iraq 1
- Saudi Arabia 4, Nepal 0
- NASA 3, Africa 2
- Europe 4, India 0
- Oman 4, Asia 0
- Saudi Arabia 4, Europe 4. Saudi Arabia defeats Europe 4 – 3 in penalty-kicks
- NASA 4, Oman 0
- NASA 4, Saudi Arabia 1