What is your name and home field location?
My name is Drazen Cvijanovic. We usually play at United Sports in Downingtown or YSC in King of Prussia.
What is your connection to Serbia?
We have many refugees who came here from Yugoslavia after the war.
What made you interested in participating in the Unity Cup?
The structure of the tournament is very fun, lasting for a whole month. Also, we obviously love soccer.
How did your team come together?
We have played for about 13 to 15 years on 4th and Pine at the gym, which we rent every Monday from 7:30 to 9pm. Meeting to play soccer was a social outing, and we would often hang out and get beer after. Sometimes we would host tournaments, and that’s how everyone met and came together and became friends.
Can you tell us a bit about the rest of your team?
Everyone has been playing soccer, either growing up or getting involved with other teams throughout their life. There are lots of older guys in their late 30s and early 40s who play with us.
What does soccer mean to your community?
Soccer is the one activity where everyone gets together, socializes, and has physical activity, all in one.
Why is soccer important to you personally?
It’s part of our culture. My son is eight years old and was just accepted for Union Academy, so soccer is a part of our life. When we watch TV on Sunday night, we watch soccer. When we want to watch games during the summer, we go see the Union. We would rather watch soccer than any other sport, and so it creates a family environment where it’s all about soccer. We also watch the kids during their games.
How has soccer made your life better?
I have a credit card processing business and connect with a lot of people on the field, building trust and relationships that translate into other areas of life as well. You meet people who want to be healthy. I’m also running two soccer leagues.
Why do you think soccer is so popular around the world?
Because it’s the best sport on the planet!
How do you think soccer in general (and the Unity Cup in particular) promotes inclusivity?
The people that we meet are all familiar faces because they’re involved in soccer everywhere. It builds friendships between cultures and helps form a strong community and higher quality of life, especially for the kids.
What places (such as restaurants or cultural centers) or groups in Philadelphia would you recommend to someone if they wanted to learn more about Serbian culture?
We have a church in Elkins Park [Eastern Orthodox church]. We often get together at the church to watch soccer.
What’s one thing you wish more people knew about Serbia?
I want everyone to know how hospitable the Serbian people are.