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Philadelphia Union Foundation gala underscores the importance of community outreach with World Cup coming in 2026



Chris Branscome, CEO of Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association, speaks after accepting an award at the Legends of Soccer Gala on March 10, 2023

Two executives who played an important role in bringing the World Cup to Philadelphia in 2026 were among the honorees at an event in Philadelphia last Thursday night that emphasized the importance of outreach into the community and the work the Philadelphia Union Foundation is doing to that end.

Dan Hilferty, chairman of Philadelphia Soccer 2026, and Chris Branscome, the CEO of Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association were honored along with veteran broadcaster JP Dellacamera at the Legends of Soccer Fundraising Gala, which raised more than $282,000.

The money raised will fund Foundation programs, including the iAM Project, which supports aspirational high school students from low-income backgrounds in Chester, the Mini-Pitch project, Chester soccer and more.

“The reason we’re here tonight, it’s not really about me or JP or Dan,” said Branscome, who was honored with the 2023 Legend of Soccer Civic Leadership award. “We’re raising money for the foundation so that we can provide better opportunities for kids from here into the future…We gotta break down barriers and open up opportunities for all children to be able to play this sport, any time, anywhere.”

The event was hosted by Philadelphia Ring of Honor Legend, Sebastien Le Toux and Philadelphia Union announcer, Dave Leno. Union public address announcer Kevin Casey emceed a live auction.

“I’m thrilled we were able to recognize the incredible impact Dan, JP and Chris have had on soccer in our area,” said Paul Howard, the Union Foundation executive director. “Our Gala is an opportunity to celebrate how soccer can improve lives, while raising money for the Foundation so we can continue to expand the positive impact of the sport.”

Hilferty, the former Independence Blue Cross CEO who recently became the CEO of Comcast Spectacor, spoke on the importance of the work the Union Foundation and others like it are doing in the community. Comcast Specatocor owns the Philadelphia Flyers and Philadelphia Wings and owns and operates the Wells Fargo Center.

“When I saw an opportunity for us at Comcast Specatacor to have our name on the jerseys of the Chester FC players, young men and young women we needed to jump at it because think about it if someone has a dream they need the opportunity to excel,” Hilferty said.

The Chester FC jersey sponsorship was one of several items up for bid in the live auction, which included a chance to play a 30-minute match against a team of Union coaches, including head coach Jim Curtin, academy and professional development director Tommy Wilson, assistant coach Ryan Richter, goalkeeper coach Phil Wheddon, Le Toux and Union youth general manager David Pettican.

Hilferty ended his remarks with a challenge to the 500 in attendance – Philadelphia Union players Alejandro Bedoya, Jack Elliott, Nathan Harriel, Quinn Sullivan and Andre Blake among them – at the Crystal Tea Room.

“Let’s be the best host city not only throughout the country but ever,” he said. “We can do that because we are Philadelphia.”

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Matthew Ralph is the managing editor of Philadelphia Soccer Now / Brotherly Game. He's covered soccer at all levels for many years in the Philadelphia region and has also written for, NPSL, PrepSoccer and other publications. He lives with his wife and two young children in Broomall, Pa., but grew up in South Jersey and is originally from Kansas.

Copyright © 2024 Philadelphia Soccer Now and Brotherly Game

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