Lehigh Valley

Coach: Protesters, medical concerns are why we quit Kidspeace tournament

Soccer team wants out of KidsPeace tournament

OREFIELD, Pa. - A local soccer team is calling foul; it wants a refund from a well known tournament.

Organizers for the KidsPeace Soccer Invitational say the team's concerns are politically motivated.

Organizers say the team is withdrawing from the tournament because KidsPeace houses undocumented children, but the team's coach says it has nothing to do with politics.

Chris Geiser has been coaching soccer for years.

He loves coaching his two boys and the Lehighton based Carbon United Outcasts.

Two weeks ago concerned parents started contacting him while on vacation.

"I got texts and phone calls from concerned parents on the team and told me KidsPeace is housing illegal aliens," added Geiser.

KidsPeace is part of a federally funded program that houses undocumented children.

This weekend the organization will host the 17th annual KidsPeace Soccer Invitational.

Carbon United pulled out of the tournament, a move KidsPeace calls "politically charged."

"Not at one point through all our conversations via email or phone," said Geiser. "I brought up anything about the political world."

Geiser says he's been going back and forth with tournament organizers for two weeks.

His concerns were about medical issues and parents possibly having to transport children through groups of protesters as they travel to the playing facility in Orefield.

"We have Democrats, we have Republicans, we have independents on our team," said Geiser. "But we still work together as a team because we are here for one purpose and that's our children."

In a statement, KidsPeace wrote Geiser has, "unfounded safety concerns about a possible protest or the chance that their children would somehow be put at risk by coming in contact with one of these immigrant children."

The Bethlehem location where the children are housed was the scene of a protest last month, but that is 15 miles from the playing field in Orefield.

KidsPeace says it also provides medical attention to the children.

Geiser says he never heard this information.

"Well why couldn't he tell me that when I talked to him personally?" added Geiser. "Why is he telling you something different than what he told me?"

KidsPeace says it did relay that information to Geiser.

The Carbon United team has played in the tournament for the last seven years.

The team did request a refund of the entry fee. That request was denied.

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