|Anthony Morales of team Faber Homes scores on the Women’s Club Soccer team during the Global Union Grassroots Soccer Tournament.
Starting around 10 a.m. Saturday, April 28, teams from RIT and the Rochester area arrived at the varsity
practice fields for the annual Grassroots Soccer 3 versus 3 Tournament. Warming up on the 20- by 30-yard
micro fields arranged for the tourney, each team had different motives for entering. Some only vied for
the $300 cash prize awarded to the victor; others registered for the challenge and opportunity to face off
against players of a higher skill level. With these goals in mind, the teams stretched and practiced, waiting
for the tournament to begin.
Global Union, RIT’s Major Student Organization for international
students, has planned and organized the Grassroots Soccer Tournament
for the past three years, according to Director of Programming Christina
Basileo. A fourth year International Business and Marketing major, Basileo
said that the event has been in the planning stages since winter quarter.
“We started planning in February,” said Basileo. “We’ve been contacting
sponsors for the past three months to help donate to the event.”
After warming up, each team headed to one of the tournament’s nine
miniature fields to begin playing. The games, which lasted 15 minutes
each, were separated into three separate types of play, starting with three
preliminary rounds. These were followed by a two-match quarterfinal, with
the tournament wrapping up in a climactic final match. Any of the top
four teams were eligible to go to the Challenge Sports 3 versus 3 National
Championship held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, at Walt
Disney World Resort, this August.
Stepping onto the field for their first game, the Women’s Club Soccer
team was matched up with last year’s defending champions, team Off In
A Corner. Many teams were having difficulty adjusting to the smaller
space. “It’s a small field and it’s difficult to keep in control” said third year
International Studies student and Women’s Club player, Kate Macken.
Macken and her fellow teammates were not shaken by the loss. “We just
came here to have fun and represent Women’s Soccer,” said Macken. “We’re
having fun and that’s all that matters.” Although the team had not heard of
the tournament previously, Macken said it was “an interesting organization
with a good cause.”
|Teams compete during the first round of the Global Union’s Grassroots Soccer Tournament. Sixteen teams played simultaneously during the first three rounds of competition.
Although a majority of the teams were from the RIT community,
the tournament was open to everyone, including team Faber Homes.
Sponsored by a local funeral home of the same name, the youth team
regularly plays in the Flower City Soccer league. Coach Anthony Morales,
an electrician from the Henrietta area, found out about the tournament
while working on campus. “I came to work in one of these buildings on
Monday and saw a flier,” said Morales.
On the team were two of Morales’ sons, Steven and Anthony Morales.
Steven, a high school junior, was glad to have had the chance to play in
the tournament. “It’s a chance to get better and play some college people,”
he said. Although many teams that day were struggling with the enclosed
nature of the fields, Steven said that the team usually played indoor soccer
and did not have too many problems playing.
Anthony Morales, a high school senior who hopes to play soccer at
the college level next year, also relished the opportunity to compete
against college players. The team was rounded out by Larsen Lindor,
a first year student at MCC. This tournament was his first time playing
on the Faber Homes team, having been practicing with the team for the
past two months.
After hours of competition, the final match began. An incredibly close
match, team Habeteen was able to make a winning goal in the last five
minutes of the game, winning against the Cunning Stunts 3-2.
|The winning team of (left to right) Ameen Almoqhim, Hamdi Alotaibi, and Ali Alghamdi, poses with their championship trophy.
Ameen Almoqhim, a Networking and Systems Administration graduate
student, was a member of team Habeteen. Almoqhim said that the team
began the tournament with only two players, with their third player late
and their captain missing from the whole tournament. “He was at a party
last night and overslept,” said Almoqhim. It wasn’t until 2 p.m. that the
team received a call from the captain, explaining the situation.
Habeteen player Ali Alghamdi, a student at RIT’s English Language
Center, was late for similar reasons but quickly made up for it, helping
propel the team into the finals and finally into the winner’s circle. Having
studied English for the past six months, Alghamdi is planning to enroll in
the Computer Science program later this year.
In the end, the real winners were Grassroots Soccer and the Global
Union staff who planned the tournament. Proceeds from the event will
be donated to the Grassroots Soccer Organization. Founded in 2002, the
charity focuses on raising HIV awareness by using soccer as a motivational
tool. By using professional soccer players and peer mentors as role models,
the organization has educated youth between the ages of 12 and 18
about HIV. They have programs in the U.S., South Africa, Botswana and
Fourth year Management Information Systems student Darshan Doshi,
vice president of Global Union, said that the main goal of the event was to
let players who had a passion for soccer help to spread awareness of HIV
by supporting Grassroots Soccer. “The main reason [HIV] is spreading is
because [people] don’t know about it,” said Doshi. “It’s really difficult to
[raise awareness] as a person, but when you come together, it’s easy.”