Forgotten moments of U.S. soccer history No. 372: the day President Reagan played football with Pele.
GFOP Scott Ewing sent these Smithsonian-worthy artifacts of a day in 1982 when he and the rest of his team, the Green Raiders, visited the White House to hear the President and Pele speak about soccer. Afterwards, the Green Raiders played a game in the Rose Garden against another youth team, the Stompers. It’s fair to say the Green Raiders had a sizable advantage.
I don’t remember much of what Pele said. He played on our team, however once the scrimmage with the other kids team [The Stompers] began. And I remember him just dancing though everyone with the shiniest dress shoes I had ever seen. But he wouldn’t score on them — it would hardly be fair.
He would dribble around everyone then stop the ball near their goal and let us take it from there.
I do remember Reagan also had probably never seen a soccer game or ball in his life. To start our scrimmage he did a drop kick of the ball to us.
We were given jelly beans by the President when we left, as was Reagan’s tradition.
A memorable day but it was 32 years ago. I was mostly just excited to meet El Rey. And of course that I could say in all honesty, “I have played soccer with Pele.“
Read President Reagan’s remarks on that day