All-time soccer great Pele said yesterday that the World Youth Soccer Championship "is the most important soccer endeavor ever undertaken in the United States. It's important for exposure here if America is ever host World Cup competition."
The tournament, currently being held in Princetown, N.J., will stage its quarterfinal and semifinal rounds in RFK Stadium Aug. 12 and 15. The final will be held in Giants Stadium in New Jersey a week later with both teams qualifying for the "World Coca-Cola Cup" in Australia in 1981.
Peter held a 10-minute phone conversation from New York with reporters at a press converence here, which featured American star Kyle Rote Jr. as guest speaker.
Pele, "the Black Pear," said he will try to be in Washington for the semifinals and "kick out the first ball."
To help promote the 19-country, 1,-team Confederation of North and Central America and Caribbean Associations of Football tournament, officials flew in U.S. Coach Walt Chyzowych and three local members of the American team after their Sunday victory over the Netherlands Antilles in Princeton.
The U.S. team defeated Barbados, 5-0, and the Netherlands Antilles, 3-0, in its last two tournament games and is expected to qualify for the quarterfinal rounds next week at Rfk.
One of the stars of the U.S. team is Darryl Gee, an 18-year-old forward from Columbia, Md., and Oakland Hill High School. He recently signed a contract with the Nasl Cosmos and is looked upon by many soccer observers as "a great black hope for American soccer."
"I decided to play soccer because it is an up-and-coming sport," said Gee, who is a fan of Pele and Diplomat star Johan Dryuff.
"I did play football one year, but I wanted black youth to know that basketball and football aren't the only sports for black kids to play."
Gee is recovering from an ankle injury and joined the U.S. team only a few days ago. He scored a goal in Sunday's win.