What is the Unity Cup? – A Q and A with MapleBrook’s Jean-Yves Viardin

The 2021 Unity Cup : MapleBrook 58ers and Friends vs Joy Athletic Club takes place at Maple Grove High School Stadium at 5pm. Admission is free.

Q: What is the Unity Cup?

A: Joy Athletic is coached by a friend of mine and I’m very familiar with the organization and I respect that organization. I run the youth club over here in Maple Grove called Maplebrook. We had a UPSL team. We took a year off because of Covid.

Because it is Joy Athletic’s first year in the NPSL. We share players. We had planned to have a game. A friendly game. When all the bad stuff happened in Minneapolis and then we decided not to play in our league it didn’t look like we were gonna be able to do it but a date popped open for them and we said “Hey, would you be willing to have a game with us?”

What’s really been the hard part with Covid is in the soccer community, we didn’t get to see our friends. We’re all in different communities, Maple Grove, Minneapolis, Brooklyn Park wherever…

And then all the stuff happened with Daunte and George Floyd and I said I’m gonna do something fun for my community and you know we share a lot of common things with Joy Athletic.

Long story short, I’m gonna start a tradition. We’re going to play them, 1 year here, 1 year there. We’re gonna have a cup, it’s gonna be called the Unity Cup. The whole spirit of the event is to get two communities which have a lot of similiarities, and eventually grow it to a point where we can raise money for charity or scholarships for kids to play soccer.

I didn’t have my team, that’s why you see Maplebrook 58ers and friends, we invited people from the different clubs in the Cities. They are all people who we feel represent something positive in the community, in and out of soccer – who they are as human beings. Everybody who is on my team is there for a specific reason, above and beyond that they are good soccer players. The fact that we partnered with Joy Athletic is for a specific reason, above and beyond that they are good soccer players. It’s a Cup to celebrate Unity, here and in Minnesota and to have an excuse to spend time together. We hope to raise money for good causes and we got picked up by Sanneh Foundation – Tony is a friend of mine. Planet Soccer, our local soccer vendor and the mortgage company that I work for said “Hey, we love what you are doing”

We’re doing it in conjunction with our youth tournament, that’s gonna be going on during the weekend. It’s an opportunity for kids to come watch high level players, we have a whole bunch of ex-pro players on our team that we’re part of Minnesota soccer history

A bunch of guys are coaches so their teams will come and it’s kinda unifying four or five youth clubs in the area.

Q: Is there any concern that you’re gonna impact Joy’s NPSL season?

A: No, not really. They have enough players, I’m sure it’s a good opportunity for them to pick the younger players and it’s really a friendly game. It’s not about the score and the result. Our team is on the old side. I think half our roster is 45. It’s really an exhibition game, more than anything.

Q: What are the plans for the MapleBrook 58’ers UPSL side going forward?

A: When the UPSL was cancelled, the organiser of Vlora FC – Adi, he organized the Goals Cup. We won that and then after that our boys went back to school so we didn’t participate in the Fall season. UPSL was gracious enough to let us carry over our “tuition”, if you would call it that, until next year. So, we will be back next year for sure. We just needed a year off to recover from financial hardships. These teams don’t make money. I lose money on both the teams every year, I do it because I love it and it lets me be around people I wanna be around.

Q: The Fury WPSL side were scheduled to play against Dakota Fusion last weekend, was the postponement due to an issue with your side or theirs?

A: I believe there was a Covid issue with Fusion but we are looking forward to playing them this weekend at Maple Grove and have rescheduled the game in Fargo for June 25th.

Q: Are there any players that we should keep an eye out for?

A: We have a pretty good team. We finished in a 3 way tie with Salvo and Mankato during the 2019 season.

Marie Sennes is a good player. Claire Odmark plays for Wisconsin Badgers as a forward. Haley Landrus is also a good player. We have a good squad.

Q: There are no playoffs in the WPSL this season. So why play a team?

A: I considered it because of no playoffs but my commitment is to get these players ready for college. We have alums from our youth clubs that have somewhere to play in Summer between college seasons. I believe 80% of our squad is from our youth clubs. The most fun part is we can show the young kids what they will be able to do next , like in Europe where everyone has their hometown team, whereas in college people can’t do that because they are all scattered around.