Chelsea FC and Adidas have a brand-new motto for the 2015-16 soccer season: “If it’s not blue, it will be.” The slogan draws from Chelsea’s nickname (the Blues) and represents the club’s ongoing mission to conquer English and European soccer.
Chelsea can’t paint its colors across England until its season begins on August 2. So they started in the U.S. instead.
Last night, the reigning Barclays Premier League champs celebrated the launch of their new kits in New York City. But the event, held in Harlem was about more than unis. The team also hosted a two-on-two, 32-team skills tournament — and made a big announcement. Along with Adidas and its affiliate club FC Harlem, Chelsea will build a $3 million year-round soccer facility for local youth players. Construction is set to begin in 2016.
The covered training complex will be built in Harlem on a site that’s currently an empty lot under a highway overpass. When it opens, it will feature blue, all-weather turf. It’s the kind Chelsea and Adidas have installed in fields in London and Asia with the goal of getting kids involved in sports.
While the new facility won’t be ready for some time, there was plenty of soccer being played last night. Teams competed on a bright blue, walled-in mini field surrounded by more than 250 fans decked out in Chelsea gear. The little arena had built-in goal frames, but points were awarded to the trickiest and most skillful players on the field. Style was prioritized above all else.
After a pair of two-player teams — Koroma and Leighton — made it to the championship match, Chelsea stars Diego Costa, Oscar, Gary Cahill, and Cesar Azpilicueta arrived to judge the finale. The Premier Leaguers were engrossed with the action, guffawing at a subtle curve shot, and laughing uproariously at a gutsy nutmeg. Costa in particular threw his hands in the air a few times, lamenting missed opportunities.
After six exciting minutes, the DJ cut the music and the timer hit zero, and one player from each team was selected as the winners and given VIP tickets for tonight’s friendly between Chelsea and the New York Red Bulls.