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Soccer in the City


Chinatown Soccer Club

Excited for the World Cup, we headed to New York City to hang out with Chinatown Soccer Club's Gerhard Stochl and the rest of the team to see what it's like to play with such a creative collective.

Words by Maitri Mehta
Photography by Devyn Galindo

On a beautiful May Sunday in New York, after a winter that seemed like it just ended, we caught up with Chinatown Soccer Club on a field in the Bowery. The sun shone off and on during the guys' match and there was a bit of a breeze—it was a perfect day. Chinatown Soccer Club, a group of creative friends helmed by Gerhard Stochl, is a collective that's been going strong twelve years; they're all extremely talented photographers, artists, and graphic designers that have used CSC as an outlet for their own creativity. Though it started as a pickup group, they've grown a cult following and have collaborated with huge brands like InCase and adidas. At the end of the day, though, they are a group of tight-knit friends that can clear their minds on the pitch and pal around.

Zach Korman, who's been with CSC since its inception in 2004, told us that he plans to keep playing with CSC until his legs fell off. CSC meets up to three times a week, even in the dead of winter; they once scraped blocks of ice from a pitch for two hours and felt like warriors afterward. Though the heat can be brutal, they love playing in the city during the summer. As they played, Gerhard pointed out an older Chinese man that was playing on the team—Kang, the most epic and oldest member of the team. They don't know much about him, and he speaks little English, but it's evident that Kang is just as deft and lithe a player as the younger members of CSC. As he leaves the field, Gerhard wishes him a happy birthday—on his own birthday, Kang brought rice pudding for the team. That's what CSC is about.

Though CSC meets regularly during the year, summertime in New York City is the prime hour for people to meet up and play sports. After a long hard winter of retreating indoors at any possible cost, people are finally starting to enjoy the sunshine. It's electric—summer in a city where winter is so cruel is a beautiful thing to see, and the sheer joy on the faces of people playing soccer, basketball, football, tennis, or just jogging through the park is catching. It revives you; even if you don't participate in a sport, just seeing groups of friends meeting and re-meeting to kick a ball around reminds you of all the different ways the city is alive. It gives players a different view of the city. Like CSC coach and co-founder Gerhard Stochl says, “We play these epic eleven-a-side matches under the lights right by the water in Williamsburg. Can't beat the view or beers after, sitting outside at a beer garden on a prefect summer night. The bike ride back across the Williamsburg Bridge and into Lower Manhattan isn't bad either.”

The most important thing about summer sporting in New York is connecting and reconnecting with friends. It's a transient place where it's easy to get wrapped up in the hustle (and bustle, as it were), but there's no better place to forget about the grind than playing sports on a day when the sun sets at 8 PM and there's a cold beer waiting after.

Keep up with the Chinatown Soccer Club @CSCNYC