2003 LUCIANO MOTTA
(Originally Published in the 2003 Can-Am Program)
Luciano "Louie" Motta 1927-2002
In keeping with a tradition introduced in last year's CAN-AM program book by host team West Rouge Centennial, the Lehigh Valley Old-Timers Soccer Club would like to dedicate the 2003 Veterans Page to the late Luciano Motta. "Louie", as he was affectionately known to all of us, gave 25 years of his life to the Canadian-American Friendship Tournament.
He played on the Lehigh Valley Old-Timers team which travelled to Toronto in 1978 for the first actual CAN-AM Friendship Tournament hosted by West Rouge. Later he entered his own team, hosted the tournament twice, and won it with his New Jersey Internationals for the first time last year.
Unfortunately, Louie will not be able to defend his championship this year. He will no longer join us on the playing fields and social gatherings of CAN-AM. Louie passed away on September 29, 2002 after having celebrated his 75th birthday during a summer party at his home in Columbia, New Jersey.
His viewing and funeral were well attended by his many soccer friends. Numerous soccer pictures and one of his most treasured possessions, the CAN-AM championship travelling trophy, were on display at the funeral home. The Internationals will be returning the CAN-AM John McMichael Friendship trophy to the 2003 tournament with the intention of winning it again in memory of Luciano.
Louie was born in Switzerland on July 24, 1928. He was a professional cyclist in his younger years and raced in the Tour de France in 1953. In addition to soccer, he also was an avid skier, bocci and ice hockey player. He came to America during his early thirties with his wife Louisa, and after being a painting contractor in New Jersey, he operated Louise's Diner in Clinton until his retirement in 1996.
Louie was a glowing example of what this tournament is all about - Friendship - on and off the field of play. Louie was well liked and known to everyone at the CAN-AM tournaments. The "Louie, Louie, Louie..." chant, which grew in crescendo as the somewhat portly and well dressed coach of the New Jersey Internationals approached the podium, at the annual CAN-AM banquet will be missed.
In the "President's Message" of the 1999 tournament program book Louie wrote, "So let the games begin and with the word FRIENDSHIP firmly planted in our minds, Bridgewater wishes every team good luck, good sportsmanship and good drinking." The Internationals hosted the tournament in Bridgewater, N.J.
Louie played with the Lehigh Valley Old-Timers for many years before finally entering his own team, the New Jersey Internationals, in 1987. Lehigh Valley was hosting the tournament and invited Louie to enter a team. That same year Louie represented his team in the first USA vs. CANADA Over-40 game. Despite his age, Louie was a crowd favorite as he displayed his talents as a goalie or winger. He was 49 when he played in that first CAN-AM tournament in Toronto back in 1978 won by West Rouge, an exciting 1-0 game with Louie in the Lehigh Valley goal. Five teams, four of them Canadian, played in the inaugural tournament.
After devoting a quarter-century to the CAN-AM tournament, one could say that Louie retired at the zenith of his amateur soccer career with 74 years of age. Not only did his team, the New Jersey Internationals, win the championship game for the first time in 2002, but he also scored a goal in the penalty kick shoot-out win for the USA in the O-40 game.
An International player and assistant coach, Les Chelminiak, recently praised his long-time friend by crediting Louie as "the man behind the scenes who did a lot for his team and the tournament."
Louie will live on in the hearts and minds of his team-mates and opponents during the 25 years of CAN-AM tournaments in which he participated. He was a unique part of this tournament that will not be the same without him. Luciano Motta will be sorely missed, and never forgotten.
In memory to a very special soccer friend,
Tim Gilman (Lehigh Valley Old-Timer)