A soccer brotherhood
Players from the U14 team for Rural Sports Foundation hoist the winning trophy. The team wears uniforms donated by players from Team Elmhurst Soccer Club.

The first Elmhurst Cup soccer tournament was hosted by Rural Sports Foundation Zambia in Petauke, Eastern Province of Zambia, on Saturday, Dec. 5. The event was held to acknowledge and thank the soccer community in Elmhurst for hosting drives to collect soccer gear to donate to Zambia’s program. To date, local families have donated 7,000 used soccer items to players across Zambia. Soccer Gear for Zambia in Elmhurst ships gear to Rural Sports Foundation Zambia, which then distributes the items to more than 40 different youth programs.

The tournament was one of the first community events held since Zambia eased restrictions due acceptable containment metrics for the COVID-19 virus there. Teams of eight players each, both boys and girls mixed, competed in four brackets ranging from age 8 to 14.  The half-day event also acknowledged World AIDS Day. Spectators received information to help reduce the spread of HIV.

A special logo was designed for the event to represent the unity between the two communities. The green color in the logo matches the same shade on the City of Elmhurst’s own logo, as well as the main color in the Zambian national flag. The logo also features an eagle, representing the American bald eagle on the Illinois state flag, as well as the African fish eagle on the Zambian flag. The values of the tournament are friendship, sports and equality, also reflecting the values of the soccer gear distribution program.

Job Mwanza, executive director for the Rural Sports Foundation, reported that players were delighted to be back playing soccer, and were particularly excited about how this event demonstrates their gratitude to families in Elmhurst. Plans are already underway to host the next Elmhurst Cup in June.

To learn more about these projects or the event, visit soccergearforzambia.wordpress.com.

Soccer Gear for Zambia will host the next soccer gear collection drive in June, but appreciates funds all year round for boxes and shipping costs.


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