Volume 75, Number 12 | August 10 - 16, 2005

The Downtown United Soccer Club moms who play at Pier 40 and their coach, Manny Dalmeida, traveled Upstate last week for a charity tournament.

Soccer moms take on the Hot Mamas and Bab’s Babes


By Naomi Freundlich

Soccer moms come in two varieties. Some spend their weekends transporting their kids back and forth to games and cheering on the sidelines for their future Mia Hamm or Freddie Adu. Then there are the Downtown United soccer moms. Tired of sitting in our collapsible chairs as our kids play the field, we’ve been meeting at Pier 40 every Wednesday night to learn the basic skills and strategies of playing what the Brazilians call “the beautiful game.”

Most of us got interested in playing soccer after logging lots of hours watching or coaching our kids and now we’ve become addicted to the athletic rush and unique camaraderie of playing a team sport. And, let’s face it; tussling over an open ball on the field really helps release that pent-up aggression we accumulate just by living in the city and juggling the demands of family and work.

This past Saturday 11 of us new-style soccer moms met at 6:30 a.m. to drive north to LaGrangeville, NY, near Poughkeepsie, to play in a charity women’s soccer tournament. The event, called Goals for Hope and organized by the Miles of Hope Foundation, is a fundraiser for breast cancer programs in the Hudson Valley. The idea to enter our past-the-bloom-of-youth soccer team into a tournament originated with Shannon Carr, the de facto spiritual leader of our group who as a cancer survivor herself is a model for us all. Shannon joined us for last year’s trip to Goals for Hope, but was vacationing somewhere fancy like the Hamptons this year so we had to go it alone.

After signing up for the “soccer mom” division of the tournament, the next order of business was our appearance. Last year’s “uniform” consisted of DUSC soccer jerseys that Judith Stiles and a few other moms managed to filch from their kids. This year we perused catalogs and decided to go with fiery red soccer shirts complete with numbers and our last names emblazoned on the back. It was a fantastic choice. When we showed up in LaGrangeville the Upstate moms took notice. Sure the Mahopac kids decked out in “My Mom Kicks Butt” shirts looked kind of cute, but the tight pink T-shirts bearing the name “Bab’s Babes” or the white ones touting “Hot Mamas” were nothing compared to our official Adidas Climalite jerseys. “You guys look like professionals, I’m scared,” said one of the Hot Mamas before our game began.

Putting the moves on at last weekend’s tournament.


The tournament, with four 20-minute games per team, seemed designed for women with short attention spans who like their activity in intense bursts. The games were played 5 vs. 5 on small fields and a truck providing free cans of the energy drink Red Bull was on site to provide an extra buzz for flagging players. Stark Raven, a rock-’n’-roll band featuring classic rock performed by soccer dads drawing on riffs once honed by the best air guitarists provided the soundtrack for the day.

Our record of one win, one draw and two losses doesn’t accurately reflect the closeness of the games and the sometimes-intense level of competition on the field. The two losses were both 2-1 but could have easily gone the other way, according to our coach Manny Dalmeida who kindly traveled north with us to provide his unfailing support. In one game the winning goal was actually a throw-in that grazed the head of one DUSC player — who I personally know is still reliving the humiliation — and sailed into the net. At times the play got rough as the soccer moms turned out to be anything but shrinking violets. But our Wednesday night scrimmages have made us scrappy and Cindy Sirko, our fearless goalie, made some dramatic saves and even weathered a head-knee collision that nearly took out the opposing team’s best player.

We ended the tournament feeling that we had played admirably and had a lot of fun competing. But I think we also learned that we would have had more fun if we had won. In fact, we decided we weren’t ready to go back to the city until we had challenged at least one more team and had another shot at victory. By 2 p.m. the tournament was winding down and several DUSC moms fanned out to try and recruit another team to take us on “just for fun.” But alas, there were no takers. The coolers were open and some soccer moms were kicking back with cold ones; others were dragging home with kids in tow to get back to doing that mom thing. The tournament winners were passing around a bottle of champagne and the Goals For Hope organizers were savoring a successful tournament where they had twice the number of participants as last year and raised money for a worthy cause.

The DUSC moms did what they do best: they took the field and played each other for one more 20-minute game. Finally sated, we collected our water bottles, our energy bars, our kids and a couple of husbands and headed back to the city. Wednesday brings another practice, another hot steamy night, no doubt, where we will trudge up to the roof of Pier 40 and resume honing our soccer skills against the priceless backdrop of the Lower Manhattan skyline and river view. We’ve gotten word of some other tournaments we might enter and the Hot Mamas say they want to come down to play us sometime. Hey, maybe by then we’ll have cool black shorts to go with our personalized jerseys — and we’ll send those Mamas back Upstate defeated.

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