Summer in New York always exceeds expectations — beautiful weather (including the occasional shower), amazing neighborhood parks at every turn, and a Showdown community that keeps us coming back. We could hear the "Rossi!" chants a month out . . . .
The sixth Showdown NYC started out early — Simone Sandri (Steve's Showdown partner in crime), Venanzio Ciampa (who helped start it all), members of the Promotion Factory (our wonderful friends/events company) and some of our favorite friends of SNF joined Steve in Times Square to ring the NASDAQ opening bell. Turns out it's a button, but the symbolism of the importance of investing in quality early childhood education wasn't lost on anyone — NASDAQ even ran a PSA produced by our friends at the First Five Years Fund, which was televised, and broadcast to on-lookers in New York's famed center. Thanks to everyone at NASDAQ (and @NASDAGOMX)!
Then it was time to put the "show" in Showdown — our players had started arriving the day before, with the tall kindness of Joakim Noah hitting the Lower East Side, Stu Holden and the lovely Kara arriving that night, Sacha Kljestan and his wife joining in, Oguchi barely missing Marco Belinelli on the train from DC, and by Wednesday, a full roster of guys (and our inaugural Showdown Warm-Up Rookie, Amber Mallett) had assembled in our beautiful LES overlook to get their kits on, enjoy a little down-time with each other in the midst of a busy summer, and pick teams. You can catch the inside scoop on those discussions — for better or worse! — on Time Warner Cable's Showdown NYC special coverage beginning July 9th.
With nary a cloud in the sky (well, from eye level, anyway), the players decided to forego transport and walk to Sara D. Roosevelt Park, much to the delight of the excited fans who cheered them on (and almost kept Joakim from getting there on time). This is, after all, a pick-up game at heart: players from a host of teams and leagues finding a common pitch for their love of the beautiful game.
After an intense media scrum/impromptu autograph session with our players and the thousands of kids (and kids at heart) on hand, on-field host (and MSG Networks' New York Knicks Reporter, and NY Red Bulls Host & Reporter) Tina Cervasio welcomed the crowd of nearly 5,000 to the Park, and introduced the players, with Steve joining her on-field to express his own appreciation to the Steve Nash Foundation supporters out to benefit our early learning platforms. Together with our wonderful friends at Girard-Perregaux, Steve presented the Spirit of Showdown Award to then-AC Milan-and-now-Fiorentina star (and lovely man) Massimo Ambrosini, who posed and vogued for the cameras in his new (sparkling) Chrono Hawk. And then, the game began . . . .
It was, as promised, not your typical charity match — these guys haven't reached the NBA or professional soccer leagues by chance, and no one wanted to lose (especially in the company of Showdown veteran Baron Davis, out to enjoy the match as a coach). With the inaugural goal scored by Wigan champ Emmerson Boyce, the game took off at a fast-and-furious pace like no other, with lead changes, equalizers and show-stopping moves at each end. Goals followed by Sammy Ameobi, Stuartowi Holdenowi (we really hope that sticks!), Giuseppe Rossi, Sacha Kljestan, Mikel Alonso, Joakim Noah (who took time – with no penalty – for the greatest victory lap ever run), Simone Sandri, and ESPN's Marc Stein, who defied critics like Bill Simmons and rocked the Park.
At the final whistle, it was Red Team 9, Blue Team 7, but a big win for kids. Showdown's MVP of the Match was Joakim Noah, also awarded a beautiful Chrono Hawk by Girard-Perregaux for his skills, dedication, and winning ways.
Team Blue (World): Simone Sandri (Showdown Co-Founder), Steve Nash (Showdown Co-Founder and Los Angeles Lakers), Massimo Ambrosini (AC Milan/Fiorentina), Giuseppe Rossi (Fiorentina), Emmerson Boyce (Wigan), Marco Belinelli (Chicago Bulls), Mikel Alonso (Liga Veteran), Enrico Zanus, and Giovanni Bartocci
Team Red (USA): Stuart Holden (Bolton and US National Soccer Team), Oguchi Onyewu (Malaga CF), Rod Fanni (Olympique de Marseille), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht and US National Soccer Team), Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls), Sammy Ameobi (Newcastle), Richie Williams (US National Soccer Coach), Mike Quadrino, and Marc Stein (ESPN's Soccer Today, and a repeat Showdown favorite since the beginning).
Referee: Francesco Bardazzi
After signing several autographs and taking pictures with fans, the action kept going at Showdown After Hours, a ticketed cocktail event, generously hosted by our dear friends at The Penny Farthing. The competitive nature of the evening led to a heated auction for Showdown souvenirs and autographed jerseys from (and among!) the game’s superstars; 100% of proceeds from the auction and ticket sales to Showdown and Showdown After Hours benefitted the Steve Nash Foundation’s initiatives in early childhood education.
Showdown wouldn't be possible without the great support of our fans, players, and sponsors: Vita Coco, JetBlue, Major League Soccer, Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema, Kappa USA, Beck & Score, WAT-AAH!, Jawbone ®, all stepped up to create a Showdown for the masses, with generous support (and great assists!) coming from ESPN New York, Under Armour, and Phebe’s Tavern & Grill. This year marked our first working with the incomparable team at Street Soccer USA, and we so appreciate the introduction to their work and their digging in to support our child welfare platforms the way they did — there is just nothing like good people.
Time Warner Cable is televising Showdown NYC in English as well as Spanish in major markets including Ohio, Minnesota, NY, and Texas, beginning July 9th. Showdown also debuted for the first time in Los Angeles, California on July 14, 2013.