Unpredictable Vermont weather wasn’t able to keep crowds away from Spartan Stadium last Sunday afternoon as people of all ages entered with their shin guards and cleats in hand.
The second annual Lose Your Shoes three-versus-three soccer tournament brought excitement that could be heard from Castleton dorm rooms.
The fund-raiser, put on by the Castleton men’s soccer team, benefits the grassroots organization.
“It’s a global aids education program,” said Castleton men’s soccer coach John O’Connor.
The program aims to educate young people with hopes to stop the spread of HIV/Aids. Soccer drills are used as discovery based learning activities, showing kids the consequences and risks of their actions relating to HIV/Aids.
Goals for the fund-raiser in its second year were set higher.
“We raised $1,000 last year so our goal is $1,500. If we can get to that then we’ll be really happy,” O’Connor said.
As music played over the stadium loudspeaker, participants scattered the field playing 12-minute games of three-on-three. Rule enforcement wasn’t a main concern.
“They will call the game themselves so its like a pick-up game,” O’Connor said, “As I told the kids, there’s no trophies, there’s no ribbon, there’s no money for the older guys. It’s just a lot of fun.”
Spartan soccer captains Steven Koenemann and Amir Pasic agreed that turn out for the event surpassed expectations.
“This year it’s a lot bigger. I think we have like twice as many teams so it’s grown a lot,” Koenemann said.
“It’s for a good cause, it turned out to be a nice day and it’s nice to see all these people out here playing the game that we love and enjoying it,” Pasic said.
Popularity for the event has only skyrocketed since last year.
“He heard of some other kids doing it last year and thought it was really cool,” said Beth Coughlin about her sixth-grade son.
Participants of the event are just as excited to give to the cause as they are to play.
“It’s fun to get a group of people together for a good cause and play a good game,” said Brad Coupe, a science professor at Castleton.
Will the Lose Your Shoes Tournament happen next year and years to come?
“Oh yeah, we’re gonna keep it going,” O’Connor said smiling.
Exercise, sportsmanship, fun and awareness are key components that O’Connor and the rest of the Spartans emphasize that make this event fun and successful.
“Anytime you can get kids out being active and doing stuff for a good cause, I think it’s awesome,” Coughlin said.