It’s the stuff dreams are made of — A teacher, a youth group and a financially-strapped city department didn’t let a zero budget stop them from finding a way to bring World Cup Soccer to the square — they went knocking on doors for corporate donations. The result is a jumbo screen outside City Hall that’s become a lively international scene where everyone is welcome to grab a seat and wave their native flag. World Cup San Francisco is for the whole family. There’s even mini nets set up for the kids to get in their own game.
Organizer Lev Kushner has a story all his own. The Assistant Director of Strategic Partnerships for the city’s Recreation and Parks Department says he had no planning experience. He suggested the idea to his boss thinking an event planner would come in and put it all together. Instead he was asked to roll with it. “I was terrified,” he told me. He didn’t even know if anyone would show. But since day one, thousands have turned out and it’s expected 10,000 people will arrive for the finals.
Jens-Peter Jungclaussen was the inspiration. In 2006, the German-born instructor and founder of Teacher Bus single-handedly arranged for a jumbo screen in Delores Park for the finals. It was such a hit, he wanted to see the idea spread in 2010. And so with the help of the city, the youth organization America Scores and lots of corporate cash, San Franciscans and tourists alike get to soak in the sun while savoring the spirit of this exciting international sport.
I showed up with my camera on Friday, June 2nd when Ghana took on Uruguay. There were some heart-stopping moments and big surprises and what a crowd!