What is your name and your home field location?
[Amadou “Samba” Sow is the captain and main contact for Senegal, but he brought in one of his players, Muhammad Dufay, to give the interview. Sow wanted to have a younger player do the interview because he thinks it is important to give young people a voice, as the youth are the future.]
Our home field is in Northeast Philly at Levick and Sommerdale.
How did you hear about the Unity Cup?
I heard about it from members of the Senegalese community. They called and let me know that there was a tournament going on, and someone took the initiative to sign Senegal up. We usually play among ourselves on the weekends, and a lot of people were interested, so word about the tournament spread fairly quickly through word of mouth and we formed the team.
What were your initial impressions when you heard about the Unity Cup?
The first thing that went through my head was the World Cup. Philadelphia is a very multicultural city, and this is a great opportunity to learn about, get to know, and participate in this event with other cultures though a universally loved game.
Why are you so passionate about soccer?
I’ve played soccer my whole life. I was born in the US and was sent to Africa at 3 months old. I didn’t return from there until I was 15. I played soccer growing up in Africa and played soccer for my high school for 4 years when I returned to the United States. I also played 2 years at the college level.
Why do you think soccer is so universal?
It’s a great sport. It’s a unique sport that combines technicality and physicality. This combination accommodates a wide range of players with different skill sets and athletic abilities. Soccer is also a very well-known sport, so a lot of people play it.
What is your connection to the team you are playing for?
I grew up in Senegal up until I was high school age.
Is there someone you identify with as the biggest influence in your community?
The entire Senegalese community. We do a lot of things together. For example, there was a time last year where we played a game against another Senegalese community from NY, and everyone pitched in to help organize it. We do a lot of community events among ourselves, as a whole.
Is there someone in your community you look up to?
I look up to my elders. It is a product of my culture and how I was raised. I am going to be one of the younger players on the team because a lot of the players for Senegal are going to be way older than me.
How do you think the collaboration and unity that characterizes the Senegalese community has helped the Senegalese community in America, specifically Philadelphia?
Whatever one person can do, two can do it better. When we have an event, we distribute the work evenly. It is not a one-man job. For example, whenever we have a game, each person is assigned a group and has a role and is responsible for something. Together, we are able to move forward more than the individual. Teamwork, basically.
What do you love about living in Philadelphia?
I have lived in Philadelphia for 9 years. I spent 3 months in Vermont last year and can’t imagine living anywhere else but Philly. There’s a lot of culture here. I come from a different background, but there are also all sorts of different backgrounds other people come from, which makes the city interesting. It’s a nice place to live in, and if you are in the right place at the right time, you should be fine.
Do you participate in other leagues and/or tournaments other than the Unity Cup?
This year, no. I have mainly been working this summer. 2 summers ago, I played in the CASA league
“We’re moving forward”
Where do you get your information/news from?
Facebook pages, a Viber group, text message groups. Word of mouth is key in the Philadelphia Senegalese community. This stems from the community spirit where everyone is equal.
How are you promoting your team? How are you bringing the team together?
We are keeping the team updated (e.g., when we meet with the mayor, when decisions are made, when we have a field, when the tournament will start, etc.).
Bringing the team together has been a challenge because everyone has a different schedule. We are all immigrants, so many of us work a lot. This makes it tough to schedule things because you can’t always make everyone happy. We try to choose the dates that work best for most people.
To learn more about your team and cultural heritage, where can someone go?
Senegal.com, religious centers, 5th St. and Ruscomb, Kilimanjaro (Restaurant), Embassy and Consulate. The Senegalese community is scattered, with a lot in West Philly, but also a lot in North Philly, and a few in the Northeast.