What is your name and home field location?
Kenick Willie. We have a couple locations; the place we usually use is at 24th & Passyunk.
What is your connection to Indonesia?
I was born in Indonesia and migrated here four years ago.
What made you interested in participating in the Unity Cup?
Soccer has been our passion as Indonesian people, and we want to bring our passion into this game in Philadelphia. You can actually face people from other countries that are absolutely good at soccer, but we still want to give our best so we can show them that Indonesia is a good country, with good soccer.
What was your favorite moment from last year’s tournament?
Our favorite moment was that we got to face people from other countries. Even though we lost a lot, it doesn’t make us give up. For now, we have been training pretty intensely, and I believe that we can change our game for this year. This year’s going to be different from last year. We have been doing some secret practice, so I think we’ll be better than last year. I’m not saying we’re going to be the best, but we’re going to try our best!
How did your team come together?
We have a lot of Indonesian people in Philadelphia. Almost 1500, I believe, if they counted. So, it’s actually pretty easy to find people: we just go to churches, mosques, temples, and ask who’s Indonesian, and who’s interested in soccer.
Can you tell us a bit about the rest of your team?
Our team was all born in Indonesia, but it’s a pretty big country, so players come from every state. We are a pretty diverse group.
What does soccer mean to your community?
Soccer has been a really passionate sport for us. It has been uniting all the diversity of races that we have. If you get to see some of the Indonesian team, the national team, you’ll see how passionate they are about soccer! It’s been our passion since we were kids, because we have been taught to play soccer, and we play everywhere and anywhere.
Why is soccer important to you personally?
As an individual I think soccer is very important because you’re trying to get healthy. All the kinds of food you eat, all the stress you get from work — for some reason, when you play soccer, you feel like all those crazy things are just gone, all your problems are gone. You just enjoy playing soccer, you meet new friends, just being happy, active. Running around the field, you get fit. It makes you feel younger than your life. When you get healthy, you extend your life. Probably one of the best workouts I’ve ever done.
How has soccer made your life better?
It’s made me healthier, and I’ve made new friends. I’ve met all kinds of people that are going to compete in this tournament, from all other countries. It brings us closer.
Why do you think soccer is so popular around the world?
The reason why I believe is because when you see people, like really good at something, you make one your hero. For example, like Cristiano Ronaldo. He is making all this money, he’s handsome, he’s really good at playing soccer… people start idolizing him because he’s one of the best players, and people want to be like their heroes. They become passionate about the team, so they want to be like him. People might have been born poor but they’re trying to change their lives. They want to hustle and they do whatever feels like fun for them, like sports, and the best sport is soccer.
How do you think soccer in general (and the Unity Cup in particular) promotes inclusivity?
That’s a very tough question. I’ll try to answer as best as I can. Playing in a game, you play with other people: you have your own team, and here’s another team. Back when I was playing my brother as kids, maybe we fight, we don’t agree, but being put against each other… in the end we realize that we are just humans, we are just playing for fun, and that’s how we become friends. It’s just uniting everybody. You watch that fight, McGregor and Mayweather? They were fighting, and after they fight, after they’re done, they become friends again because they realize it’s just a sport, just a game. We’re going to fight, someone’s going lose, but we’re still going to be together.
What places (such as restaurants or cultural centers) or groups in Philadelphia would you recommend to someone if they wanted to learn more about Indonesian culture?
Most popular is the food! You’ve got to try this restaurant, a lot of people go in there that’s not only Indonesian, there’s people from other countries: Sky Cafe, at 12th & Washington. And also, there’s this Modero dance company; they do the traditional Indonesian-style dance, you’re not going to see it some other place, you’re only going to see it there. There’s also one of the biggest Indonesian churches, Bethany Church, and one of the biggest mosques, Al Falah.
What’s one thing you wish more people knew about Indonesia?
I wish people knew that Indonesian people are friendly, and also I wish that people knew that Indonesia has good food.