Every year, Target USA CUP presents a Founders’ Award to individuals and organizations that have contributed greatly to the competition throughout the years. In 2023, we are very proud to announce the two winners of this special award; Toyo Aguirre and Centro Deportivo Israelita! Both Toyo and CDI have participated in Target USA CUP for a longer duration than Messi’s tenure with FC Barcelona (21 years!). The four-and-a-half hour flight from Mexico City to Minneapolis has never been an issue with them, as they have made the trip up almost every single year to support their respective teams. We couldn’t be more proud to have both as a part of our football community. Thank you so much for your continuous support!
The year was 1988 and Toyo Aguirre found himself in Denver, Colorado with his team from Mexico getting ready to compete. While at the tournament, he was recommended by a friend to check out a “USA CUP” which was located a few states Northeast of Colorado. In 1990, Toyo decided to give USA CUP a chance, and he was amazed. The following few years truly cemented his love for not only the tournament, but also the people of Minnesota.
The fields, organization, and infrastructure of the tournament were a few characteristics that stood out to him immediately once arriving to the scene. In 1990, USA CUP consisted of only 16 competing teams (as opposed to the current count of 1,000+ teams) giving clubs a greater opportunity to distinguish themselves. He was impressed with the overall coverage of the event itself. He remembers his team and coaches being interviewed by newspapers and TV channels while attending USA CUP, something completely new compared to other tournament experiences.
By the time 1992 rolled around, Toyo and his team had eyes only for Minnesota. His connection to the tournament runs much deeper than just football. The relationships that Toyo and his teams have managed to establish are truly special. He recalls one story involving his team and a homestay family:
“Many times, our players would take part in a homestay program while at USA CUP. It would be common for players to stay with the same family year after year, so we knew them pretty well. During one tournament, there was a situation involving a long-time host family. That year, circumstances prevented them from accommodating players, but their thoughtful gesture left a lasting impression. Despite being out of town, they went above and beyond by informing us of their absence and surprising us with an act of kindness. They had pre-stocked their fridge with an abundance of cold beverages, inviting us to cool down or relax on their property. Their generosity and consideration even from a distance made us truly appreciate their support.”
A majority of players still have contacts with their previous host family members and some families have even visited them in Mexico City. Moments like this is what made him fall in love with the tournament. When asked about his favorite memory, Toyo couldn’t narrow it down right away. He said that every single year he attends USA CUP, he has a new favorite moment. After about a minute of sifting through dozens of fond memories, he did recall one that still has an impact on him till this day.
“When the pandemic started, we were disappointed that we wouldn’t be able to go to Blaine. On the bright side, we were able to still see the Opening Ceremony through a livestream. As we were watching it, we saw that we were still included in one of the first videos. Seeing ourselves was a special moment that I’ll remember for a long time. Even though the distance was far between us, this nice gesture ensured our strong connection.”
Although Toyo won’t be able to attend Target USA CUP this year, we still hold him very dear to our hearts for his support throughout his 30 years participating in this wonderful tournament.
Un abrazo grande Toyo!
Ciudad deportivo isrealita
Now, where do we even begin with Ciudad Deportivo Israelita (CDI)? For starters, this fantastic club in Mexico City has been participating in Target USA CUP for 23 years! Founded in October of 1950, they have amassed over 18,000 members to their growing community.
Being a huge supporter of Target USA CUP, we asked Rafael Jaber, Director of Football for CDI, what does CDI like most about the tournament?
“There are many things we like about travelling to Blaine. A few being the climate, the organization of the tournament, the fields, the diversity of levels, and the multitude of teams that come from all over the world to compete. Playing against international teams is a huge learning experience for our players. It allows them to grow not only as players but as people too.”
When asked about a favorite moment of their experience at Target USA CUP, Rafael knew almost immediately.
“The finals are always amazing. Engagement is always high, and the level of soccer is even higher. As a footballer, arriving to the final is always the goal. Being a champion not only involves being successful on the pitch, but also off the pitch. This is what our philosophy is all about. Each initial of our name “CDI” stands for a pillar of what we believe in.
Within our organization, commitment means to be aware that you are a part of a bigger institution, knowing that you need to be committed to a goal that is beyond one’s individual self. For football, this means being committed to your team. Showing up to practice, being a reliable teammate, and watching one another’s back is what we instill into our players.
For us, this means to respect your neighbor. To be considerate and aware of the people around you, to treat them with dignity and respect regardless of the circumstances.
We expect our players to do the right thing, even when nobody is watching.
Every year at Target USA CUP we have been better and have had a chance to learn.”
For this year’s tournament, CDI is bringing 8 teams to compete. That’s around 110 players and 31 staff members!
We would like to extend a huge thank you to Ciudad Deportivo Isrealita for their support throughout the years. We are looking forward to seeing you back on campus!
Un montón de gracias CDI!