What is your name, and where is your team’s home field?
My name is Abner Melgar. Team Honduras plays at 900 W. Hunting Park. We train on Saturdays from 2-6pm. Already, we have played in some friendlies with Italy and Argentina.
How did you hear about the Unity Cup?
We heard about the Unity Cup through the news on channel 69 and channel 65 (Univision). It was a Friday, and we called to sign up on Monday. We thought it was a big idea and very exciting. Lots of people were wanting to join. By the time we signed up, only a few team/country spots were still available. Also when we signed up, we did not yet have a team.
What were your initial impressions of the Unity Cup?.
Philadelphia was a great city to try to have this event. We loved the idea of trying to make the city united because of soccer. Baseball and basketball are all cultural games in the United States, but soccer is the game of the world. We knew the Unity Cup would be something different. We thought that maybe other cities would start doing Unity Cups after they saw that it worked in Philadelphia, so we wanted to be a part of history. Men die but history doesn’t.
Why are you passionate about soccer?
Latin America loves soccer. It is our first sport, our culture. The first toy I received was a soccer ball. All of my family plays soccer for fun (not pro).
Is there someone you identify with as they biggest influence in your community, either through soccer or in some other way?
There is no single person that I can identify as the biggest influence in our community; everyone contributes a little of what they can. In different areas, there may be leaders, but not one overall leader. We are trying to keep our culture. Restaurants can be used to reach out about the Unity Cup. One of my friends has a league called Latin American Soccer Team Toledo, and I am very involved with it.
Is there someone in your community you look up to?
One of my influences is Louis Calix. He is a friend who made a soccer school, and they hold lots of events for the community. I recently opened Philadelphia Lions Soccer Academy which now has 40 students (it opened 3 months ago). I was 17 when I got to the USA, and I didn’t really feel like I had anyone to coach me. I want to provide that mentorship and coaching to youth now.
What do you love about living in Philadelphia?
Philadelphia is home. I have been here for 17 years, so there is no other home to me in the USA. Philadelphia gave me my wife, my job, my kids.
Do you participate in other leagues or tournaments?
Team members have participated in other leagues. We play in the Latin America Soccer League and the league at 18th Street.
Can you provide a tagline or quote for your community/team?
“We are all together building a culture, we are all together writing a history.”
Where do you get your information?
Information is gained through Facebook, La Prensa, and Channel 69. There is no community center for Honduras.
How are you promoting your team? How are you bringing the team together?
We are going to watch different soccer teams of different leagues and then after the game, if someone impresses us while playing, we will ask them if they are interested in joining. The players do not know that they are being ‘scouted.’ Some of the leagues include Atlantic City Soccer League, Latin American Soccer League, and a league on 18th Street.
We are promoting our team on Facebook (the team’s Facebook page is Selection d’Honduras). Bill Salvatore (the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation staff member managing tournament logistics) has also been sharing our posts. We see this as a huge opportunity to show people in Philly that Honduras is here. Our team already has 25 players.
If someone wanted to learn more about your team and cultural heritage, where should they go?
Honduras has a great Facebook page in English that shares about our culture.
Local restaurants to visit include: Savor Centro American in North Philly and Cafe Cannela on 7th Street.