SALT LAKE CITY – It's a Thanksgiving day football game unlike any other, featuring several former college players and fierce completion while promoting goodwill between two groups who used to have bad blood between them.
For the fifth consecutive year, football players from Rose Park and Glendale have been getting together to break down stereotypes for a good cause.
The match-up features some of the best athletes in the state, mostly Polynesian men from Salt Lake City’s Rose Park and Glendale neighborhoods. The bigger goal of the event is to promote peace between two neighborhoods and among men who, in the past, sometimes settled their differences in a more violent manner.
"We wanted to kind of disprove the perception out there, that it's all about gangs,” said Sione Havili, one of the event organizers.
Glendale Coach Pulu Otukolo said their cause is to promote the positive.
"Just bring awareness to our neighborhood, that together we can do good things,” he said. “You know, eliminate and go away from the negative."
Several members of the Salt Lake City Police Department were on hand this year, not as part of any security detail, but to participate by handing out donuts, coffee and hot chocolate.
"This is an event where we can enjoy each other's company and come together as a community,” Salt Lake City Police Department Chief Mike Brown said.
Current NFL players like Haloti Ngata, who grew up in Rose Park, and Will Tukuafu, a Glendale native, do their part by providing jerseys for the players.
And even though this is a friendly game, it's still played with a lot of emotion. With music pumping and smiling families all around, it's an event Sione Havili believes will continue to grow.
“There's a lot of good people in these communities, and I think a lot of times the only things that people see are some of the bad,” Havili said.
The game is played primarily for pride, but they do keep score. Event organizers said the big winner is the community, as the event also functions as an opportunity to collect food donations. Between the two teams, eight barrels of food donations were collected.
The final score of the game had Rose Park beating Glendale 21-0.