What is your name and home field location?
Mario Alberto Medina. For now, we are practicing at Hunting Park on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and when we have scrimmages we play in New Jersey, 10 minutes away from the Tacony bridge.
What is your connection to Argentina?
I am from Argentina. I was born in Argentina in the city of Rosario.
What made you interested in participating in the Unity Cup?
One of the things is I like to compete. One really likes to win but I enjoy the competition more and when a “Cup” is mentioned, one knows there will be many countries. I liked that. It really motivated me, to play against other countries.
What was your favorite moment from last year’s tournament?
When we passed the first phase. Having qualified first. It made me very happy, the young men that were representing Argentina.
How did your team come together?
We are a group of friends that have played soccer since the time we arrived in this country.
Can you tell us a bit about the rest of your team?
Like I said before, we’re a group of friends. We have been playing for years. We are connected through soccer and we formed a group of friends, many friends.
What does soccer mean to your community?
It’s the most popular sport. For me soccer is number one. It’s the most popular, it’s the main one.
Why is soccer important to you personally?
As a child, my father always put it on me to play soccer. It must be that when one is a child the first gift given is a ball and then comes the help from one’s parents. The help from my father, my father was a soccer player. He wasn’t a professional, but he always loved soccer and he enjoyed very much going to see me play as a child. He would come to my games.
How has soccer made your life better?
First, in health. One knows that practicing any sport, and even more so soccer, one is well physically. Then the behavior. I have trained on many teams since childhood and the discipline teaches you very much.
Why do you think soccer is so popular around the world?
We believe that those who play the sport greatly influence why many people play around the world. For instance, there are many stars who play on many different teams. Many countries have stars that have many people go to see that player and pay lots of money to go see them as well as the whole team.
How do you think soccer in general (and the Unity Cup in particular) promotes inclusivity?
Well, with simply the word “Unity” you are saying everyone come and play because you will all be well received, welcomed, and it is a language that we all can speak and we all understand it. It’s all the same soccer.
What places (such as restaurants or cultural centers) or groups in Philadelphia would you recommend to someone if they wanted to learn more about Argentinian culture?
There are cultural places but we don’t know of them. We know that Argentinian people get together but we don’t know where. In other words, we don’t belong to any of those groups in the community. Restaurants, there is one on 2nd and Pine, Malbec, like the wine. There you can also see artifacts that decorate the restaurant.
What’s one thing you wish more people knew about Argentina?
I want others to see that soccer, to play, there is a camaraderie. It’s a group. There is mutual respect. If and when there is respect on a team, I would like for others to take a note of this on our team. I would like for all the teams to have this respect for each other. I feel if this is maintained then you are in fact a team.