Pro Soccer Team Brings Diverse City Together
The air in the room sparked with electricity when Councilman Cyril Jefferson – now candidate for mayor – stepped up to the mic. Cyril is gifted at taking a room full of High Pointers to mountaintop to see our bright future. On this particular day, in front of a packed, standing room only crowd, he got everyone energized to hear the name of the new pro soccer team that will soon play at Truist Point Stadium in downtown High Point.
What struck me about the room was the number of people in it that I didn’t know. My job has me at a lot of press conferences and announcements, supporting the good work people are doing in our city (and figuring out how HPU students and faculty can support it). Over the years, I’ve come to know most of the people who show up.
The soccer announcement was different. It wasn’t just the usual crowd. Soccer is pulling in new faces, more diverse faces, and people from all over our region. Its why the team has been named the Carolina Core Football Club. It’s a team that’s going to draw on fans and players from all over our region – and around the world.
High Point is already known the world over for the furniture market, but people in the soccer world also know it as Eddie Pope’s hometown. Eddie attended Southwest High School before playing in the MLS as a defender. He played for the US National Team and in three World Cups before being inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2011. Eddie has returned to High Point as the Chief Sporting Officer of the team, and he’s committed to helping expand the opportunities for others like him to achieve greatness.
Megan Oglesby, managing partner for the team’s ownership group, said it best at the initial press conference. The Carolina Core FC is “bringing the international sport to the international city.” The team is working to ensure that communities in our region, who have long been on the margins, will be included – through soccer – in the heart of our community. You can think of soccer as the international language. With over 10% of High Point’s residents being immigrants and refugees, it’s a language many of them speak fluently.
Too often we overlook the presence of God at work in the everyday. For those of us who are Protestant, we believe God calls us to use our work to further the kingdom; it’s not just ministers who are called by God. Our challenge is to figure out how to be God’s hands and feet to the world right where we are.
I believe we are doing God’s kingdom-building work when we use our talents and effort to build diverse and inclusive communities. With the World Cup in full swing, it’s easy to see how soccer can be a catalyst for bringing even waring nations together. Sports in American life have long been a way to bridge divides and unite communities. This is kingdom work.
When Nido Qubein first took up the mantel of downtown revitalization, he made it clear that building a stadium in the heart of the city was about much more than baseball. And for anyone who has been to a Rockers game and spent their evening talking to friends or running after kids, I think you get it. Baseball is about more than just watching the game. It brings the community together.
As Carolina Core FC prepares for its first season in 2024, we are going to see soccer bring a young, diverse community together in High Point. The increased activity at the stadium will bring more economic growth to the region, and as more people, from more backgrounds, rub shoulders, they will produce even more energy to power our collective future.
It's about soccer. But it’s also about a lot more. It’s about building a stronger, more inclusive High Point, and that’s a message we can shout from the mountaintop.