Courtesy Indigenous Soccer Cup
The Indigenous Soccer Cup will reach a decade of existence this July. Organizers say the event builds leadership and a sense of pride in youth participants.

Goal! Indigenous Soccer Cup Celebrates 10th Year

Cary Rosenbaum

After being asked 10 years ago to coordinate the soccer portion of the North American Indigenous Games, the folks at Southwest Youth Services had a light-bulb moment to create a positive event that was good for their community. They created the annual Indigenous Soccer Cup Championships for Native youth ages 10-19.

After event organizers saw a profound and positive impact of their event to the youth, they knew they had a winner. “We were all blown away by the fact that for the Native youth, the students, soccer was one way they could cope with issues within their families, their schools,” executive director JoAnn Melchor says.

The event, which takes place July 20-24 in Albuquerque, is geared toward creating tribal leaders, budding college students and cultural pride. “This event makes a major impact on Native youth. We’ve had participants come back many times.”

Youth ages 10-19, and from any experience level, are invited to participate in the Indigenous Soccer Cup, which awards first, second and third place teams with medals and trophies. (Indigenous Soccer Cup).

Experience is not required and engaging on and off the field with up to 300 youth from other tribes is a huge plus, says Melchor. “One  year, a bunch of boys from Montana brought their basketballs with them. They picked up some [soccer] skills and loved it. They got into the competitiveness and team spirit of the event. I think they came in second that year. I think they were surprised at how much fun it is and how much of a challenge it is.”

Last year,Temryss Lane, a former Team USA co-captain from the Lummi Tribe. served as a guest speaker during the opening ceremony.When Lane was headed to the airport as teams began warming up. “She  said, ‘I can’t leave. This is what my passion is about,’” Melchor recalls. “She canceled her flight. She ended up staying two more days to coach children that were there.”

Native sports icon Temryss Lane was more than a guest speaker last year. She canceled a flight home to stay and coach tribal youth at the Indigenous Soccer Cup, which enters its 10th year this July. (Courtesy Indigenous Soccer Cup)

With a system modeled after the Olympics, the soccer cup awards medals to first, second and third place, with a trophy going to the winners.

The event says one of its proudest moments was being designated a national youth leadership conference by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The Indigenous Soccer Cup teaches places a high emphasis on teamwork and building character in Native youth. (Indigenous Soccer Cup)

For more information about the Indigenous Soccer Cup, see

Cary Rosenbaum (Colville) is a correspondent and columnist for ICTMN. He can be contacted via Twitter:@caryrosenbaum

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