What are you doing on Wednesday, June 22? If you are a soccer fan in North America, you’ll be watching the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals at 6:30 & 10:00 PM Eastern. The US are looking to avenge their group stage loss against Panama while Mexico are looking forward to another scrimmage – this time against Honduras – before the final.
But if you are in New York City and don’t mind watching the games later (be sure to add ample time to your TiVo or DVR, in case the US match goes into extra time), then head down to Chinatown after work. You’ll get to see some soccer stars and basketball players having a kick-around for charity.
Showdown in Chinatown
Yes, it’s the 4th-annual Showdown in Chinatown, sponsored by Ortsbo. NBA star Steve Nash has invited Demba Ba, the Senegalese striker who just signed with Newcastle after netting seven goals in 12 games for West Ham this spring, along with old friend Claudio Reyna, a US soccer legend. There are bound to be other soccer stars, as past games have included Jozy Altidore, Juan Pablo Angel, Ryan Babel, Gregg Berhalter, Ivan Cordoba, Edgar Davids, Youri Djorkaeff, Mathieu Flamini, Robbie Fowler, Thierry Henry, Salomon Kalou, Steve McManaman, Adrian Mutu, Giuseppe Rossi, Giovanni Savarese, and Javier Zanetti. From the hoops world, Nash has lured the likes of Grant Hill and Tony Parker for the match. As with the footballers, there will be plenty of additional surprises for the fans.
The charity match kicks off at 6:00 PM in Sara D. Roosevelt Park, at the corner of Chrystie & Stanton Streets in Chinatown. It’s free to watch, but there is limited seating, so get their early. It should be entertaining to see the “handers” playing a “no-hands” sport. Plus it’s for a great cause. The funds raised will benefit Educare Arizona, a non-profit that provides educational opportunities and healthcare access for young children in need.
But wait, if it’s free to watch the game, how can you help them raise money? Well, you could make a donation, just to say thanks for an entertaining evening of footie. But if you visit the Showdown in Chinatown Web site, you will see that there are many ways you can contribute. You can purchase special VIP passes to the game, with preferred seating. You can buy packages that actually put you on the field at halftime, giving you a chance to score against one of the stars. You can even pick up some Down in Town gear. But all the cool kids will be rubbing elbows with the players at the after-hours party and auction.
The Steve Nash Foundation
So who is this Steve Nash guy? Is he related to Graham? And why the hell does he keep scheduling this thing when proper football fans have more pressing matters (Gold Cup in 2011, World Cup in 2010, etc.) to attend to?
Steve Nash is a basketball player. That’s the round-ball game where they only use their hands. But Nash is not just any basketball player. He’s a two-time NBA MVP with the Phoenix Suns, which means he’s one of the best in the game but has to wear a hideous jersey when playing.
Off the court, Nash has been honored for his tireless dedication to charitable causes, including the Steve Nash Foundation, which he established in 2001 to support initiatives that improve the lives of underprivileged children. Time named Nash one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He has also received the Order of Canada, the nation’s highest civilian honor, which I believe consists of a life-sized bronzed beaver mounted on a hand-carved maple stump.
Despite all his success, happiness has alluded Steve Nash. Secretly he harbors a desire that has yet to be fulfilled. Deep down, Steve Nash wants to be a soccer player.
Born in South Africa to a Welsh mother and English father, Nash relocated to Western Canada when he was still a toddler. He grew up playing soccer, along with his younger brother, Martin, who used to play for the Vancouver Whitecaps. Nash has invested in the Whitecaps, helping them join Major League Soccer, and has also supported Women’s Professional Soccer. Like his father, he is a Spurs fan.
Having seen Nash in action at the inaugural NYFEST, the guy has skills - especially for a 37 year-old. So if you plan on doing a little wagering on the Down in Town match, you’d be wise to favor Steve Nash’s side. Not only can he hold his own with his feet, but the man is a winner – on the court, on the pitch, and pretty much everywhere else.