What is your name and home field location?
Mauricio Garcia. For now, our home field would be Northeast High School.
What is your connection to Colombia?
My connection to the country is that I was born there, as well as most of my players, and that we love it with a passion.
What made you interested in participating in the Unity Cup?
It seemed like a great opportunity for a lot of the guys especially guys in their mid-20s, 30s, and it’s a very competitive tournament. We thought it was a great opportunity for everyone, and also I myself played in the Philadelphia region for many, many years. I started when I was 13 or 14, when I played for Philly Soccer for a long time and we actually won a couple cups. We won the Jefferson Cup, a lot of them.
How did your team come together?
Our base has actually been going on for a while. I have a team outside the Unity Cup, and we play in different tournaments. Most of the guys have been playing with me for a couple of years, and the other ones we had open tryouts. We put it on social media and word of mouth as well, and people just started coming and holding tryouts.
What does soccer mean to your community?
Soccer is life.
Why is soccer important to you personally?
It seems like my only way out of everything. It’s where you can forget about everything, about every single problem and everything just becomes beautiful.
How has soccer made your life better?
Soccer makes my life better every day. Just the fact that when I wake up on a Monday morning to go to work I know I’m only 48 hours away from practice.
Why do you think soccer is so popular around the world?
Maybe because it’s more than a sport. It’s a lifestyle. It becomes part of your life. It becomes your family. It is attached to you.
How do you think soccer in general (and the Unity Cup in particular) promotes inclusivity?
They do a really good job. Everyone that loves the game can relate to the same idea of the tournament, and everyone will do their best to come together. The name itself says “Unity,” so everyone can come united and play as a big family.
What places (such as restaurants or cultural centers) or groups in Philadelphia would you recommend to someone if they wanted to learn more about Colombian culture?
The Colombian community is actually a real big community here in Philadelphia. I own a business that is Spanish, a Colombian business, and if you want to learn anything about our country you can always come here. A lot of our players have their own businesses such as Colombian restaurants, like El Sabor de Maria (which is Jhon Fabio). You can go there any time. There are many places. I also have another friend of ours that helps us out every year with money or anything we need her name is Jennifer Robayo. She is also a Colombian part of the community. She also owns a business like mine. She does a lot of tag work, insurance. There’s a lot of them that help us out every year.
What’s one thing you wish more people knew about Colombia?
One thing would be that it’s more than a team. I always tell the guys every Sunday we have games just to look at it as a second family because apart from just being a team, that’s what it is a family. Some place where you can go and forget everything and just come with your brothers and have a great time.