The lower east side of Manhattan on Wednesday night played host to an entertaining charity event on Wednesday night. Sarah D. Roosevelt Park, which usually host to NYC’s varying adult soccer leagues, welcomed stars from all walks of life to its field. Two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash hosted his 5th Annual Showdown in Chinatown to benefit his charity, the Steve Nash Foundation on a beautiful evening in Manhattan.
According to the Steve Nash Foundation’s website it was “Formed as a family foundation in 2004, the Steve Nash Foundation is dedicated to assisting underserved children in their health, personal development, education and enjoyment of life. By increasing access to critical needs health and education resources at home and abroad, the Foundation works to ameliorate conditions for kids, families, and communities.” Through the website you can donate varying amounts and be rewarded for your generosity. Currently, for a $75 donation, you can nab a 2010 Showdown jersey. During the match, you were able to text a donation to be entered to win one of two autographed jerseys by the entire roster of players.
Every year Nash brings in players from varying walks of life to entertain hundreds of fans that pack the bleachers and areas around the field with a 8v8 small sided celebrity soccer match. On the international soccer side some of the players were Mehdi Ballouchy (NY Red Bulls), Robbie Rogers (Leeds United), Maurice Edu (Glasgow Rangers), Patrick Vieira, and Chelsea’s Salomon Kalou. Thierry Henry, Stuart Holden, Dax McCarty, Heath Pearce, and Giuseppe Rossi were all in attendance to take in the game. Besides Nash, ESPN’s Marc Stein, NBA players Danny Green, Mike Dunleavy, Elton Brand highlighted the non-soccer players to grace the pitch. Former MLS great and USMNT defender Jimmy Conrad, recently back from his trip to Poland and the Ukraine for Euro 2012, pulled double duty as he played and broadcasted for Kick TV. Conrad had a howler of a goal in the second half while still on the mic for Kick TV. Look for the full game on Kick TV’s YouTube page Friday.
This was the first Showdown I was able to attend and it was thoroughly entertaining. It’s not so weird to think Mehdi Ballouchy, Mo Edu, and Robbie Rogers can pass between one another but when it comes around Steve Nash, Salomon Kalou, and Elton Brand, you can do nothing but cheer. ESPN’s Marc Stein, a huge Manchester City and regular to the Showdown, opened the games scoring after missing a sitter a few plays before. Salomon Kalou stole the show as he had a plethora of fancy goals and one beautiful assist to Nash, who showed technical skill by smashing the ball on the volley. As the game went on, many spectators were varying in their chants. Rossi had a hardcore group of Italian supporters, Nash had a few fans plead with him to join the NY Knicks, but the greatest was how former Duke products Mike Dunleavy and Elton Brand were treated. Both looked as if they had never stepped on the field before but they took the game in stride and rolled with it. Elton Brand tried to one time a shot in the first half that Dunleavy’s face got in the way of. Toward the second half, Dunleavy seemed a bit out of stamina as he hung around defending his goal but he did have a few key defensive stops and one major athletic goal line clearance. The fans took it in all fun and cheered for both whenever they would make a play but also encouraged the players if they made a mistake. Danny Green, of the San Antonio Spurs, was pretty mobile down the wing and every now and again was able to get his foot on a ball played by the trio of Ballouchy, Rogers, and Edu.
The Showdown takes place annually during the summer here in NYC. Admission is free but you can donate to get field seats and even donate to have some playing time on the field. An updated venue might be in order next year as the attendance every year, I’m told, is growing exponentially. The event is overall very well done and delivers in entertainment and raising awareness for a worthy cause. Needless to say I will be heading back every year for the fun.
(image courtesy of Ben Walton)