Hmong sporting event attracts thousands

Sunday, July 26, 2009

It was the annual Asian-American
Sporting Festival

* Heather Sawaski

Wausau - MyFox Wausau - Athletes from across the Midwest took to the turf in Wausau this weekend. It was all for the 9th annual Asian American Sports Festival.

Sports tournaments are a growing national trend in the Hmong community. Each summer teams travel to soccer and volleyball tournaments, not only for the love of game, but also for the camaraderie.

Benjamin Moua plays flag football for Team IDK out of Minnesota.

"Our culture is very much based on the idea of unity and group unification," Moua explained. "And playing sports is something that gives us a really great opportunity to come together."

And it's that sense of unity in the Hmong culture that packed over 2,500 athletes, friends, and families into Marathon Park. Organizers say sports festivals are becoming a large part of what it means to be a Hmong-American.

They bring together people young and old to bond over a passion for American-style sports, while still keeping an Asian sense of community and culture.

"Since we came to this country," said organizer Toulee Moua. "we spread out. So now it's time to get all the people together and have fun."

Between games, people could shop around for traditional Asian clothing and food.

Some athletes say they look forward to the event every year.

"We usually like to come out and get to know people," said flag football player Ai Yang. "It's good to come and enjoy the Hmong festivals here."

The first place finishing teams took home close to $2,000.


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