EMERSON, N.J. — Emerson's young soccer stars gathered with painted faces and colorful gear at Memorial School Field for the Recreation World Cup Games.
Kindergarten pupils and first- and second-graders opened the Oct. 18 games with a ceremony complete with a parade of countries and a singing of the National Anthem.
The U6 and U8 divisions were split up by grade to represent Ireland, Italy, Spain Brazil, Germany and Argentina.
"This is the only time during the season we actually keep track of wins and losses," Ireland Coach Luis Amaral said.
Each winning team advanced while the losing teams were eliminated. Eventually only Brazil and Germany remained.
Brazil took home the first place medal while Germany took home the second. All players, however, received participation medals.
"The coaches for this age group focus on the fundamental skills of soccer during our practices," said Amaral, formerly of Brazil. "During the tournament we focus on the importance of playing as a team, playing hard and never giving up."
The athletes practice for one hour during the week and scrimmage against each other for fun on weekends. The World Cup is the only tournament where coaches and referees keep track of the score.
"Players got in the team spirit painting their faces, getting soccer tattoos, coloring their hair, holding posters, and enjoying snacks," said Sara Grompone, whose daughter, Kylie, played for Ireland.
"It was a great day for the children, parents, and family members to enjoy soccer," she added. "The children had fun and everyone played their best!"
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