Emery, a high school student from Los Angeles, is an avid soccer player. Playing for her high school and club teams, she has learned, first hand, how the sport she loves is so much more than just a game. She learned how it can truly be a vehicle for positive change.
So when Emery was searching for ways to give back to the community, Soccer Without Borders immediately stood out. She knew that the mission of SWB was something she could get behind–it was a cause that she was passionate about. In February, Emery put this passion to work by organizing a futsal tournament fundraiser in support of SWB.
The tournament brought together teams of girls from across the community to play and connect, some of whom were brand new to soccer. The event was a huge success and far exceeded fundraising goals. Due to her hard work and the generosity of her friends, family, and community, more than $3,000 was raised in support of SWB programs!
Continue reading to learn more about Emery as she shares about her love for soccer, her passion for getting girls in the game, and how the idea of a futsal tournament fundraiser came to life:
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your personal connection to the game of soccer?
My name is Emery, I am a junior at Eagle Rock High School. I play for the LA Surf 06 girls DPL team and I just hosted a futsal tournament to raise money for SWB. Soccer has always been such a big part of who I am and the things I love, it's such a great way to connect with other girls and people who share the same drive and passion for the game. While having my own personal connection to the game, I found it so frustrating that there are so many groups out there that don’t have access to many of the resources that I have access to. I want others to be able to experience the same love I have for the game with all of the right materials to play. So really, doing this tournament was my way of helping spread the love that I know soccer was able to provide for me.
How did you learn about Soccer Without Borders? What about our mission resonated with you the most and why?
I was talking to my college counselor about ways in which I could start to get more involved with my community, but in a way I could enjoy it and also feel that it aligned with my agenda. So, I was looking online for something soccer related that would have the power to bring people from all over and from so many different backgrounds together. I think that SWB’s inclusivity and the idea that anyone can play soccer really was the thing that drew me towards it. I just found it so truthful that despite being from different cultural, religious, and social backgrounds, a group of people were able to connect through one sole similarity and really try their best for their teammates. It's so true that when you're playing not only for yourself but also for your teammates, your love for the game grows exponentially. I think that I could personally really relate to that, it's really hard as the level you play goes up to remember why you play the game, so I think just learning more about SWB made me remember why I play, it's not just for me, its for a team, it reminds me that there is always something greater than myself.
What inspired you to fundraise for SWB?
When I was learning about SWB I just knew that I wanted to give back to their incredible community. I felt so moved by everything they were doing for underserved youth and so I knew I wanted to give back or join their mission. This was a super long process, I was trying to think of so many ways of fundraising, my initial idea was to do some sort of table with a raffle. But then I remembered SWB’s mission, it's all about bringing people together with soccer as a vehicle, so I thought, what better way to do that than by simply playing? What was so special about this tournament was that I really had brought people from totally different environments: I had people from my high school teams, people from my club team, and I even had people who had never played soccer before wanting to play! It was so exciting to see how the game of soccer was able to bring so many girls together to play.
Can you share more about the tournament?
The format of the tournament consisted of the morning/afternoon being 4 teams of girls 14-16 in age, so there were a total of 4 games. We had teams A and C go first, and the winner of that round would go into the final. Then we had B and D play and the winner of that round also went into the final. The two teams who weren't in the final played for 3rd and 4th place. When the final was played, the winning team won Lululemon gift cards that we had got donated! My fundraising goal was only $1,500, but we ended up going way over that so I was so happy.
How did the tournament go? What was the most exciting part? The greatest challenge?
The tournament was super successful! I think the most exciting part was seeing everyone have fun. There were girls of all different ages and when they were put on teams together they really had fun all competing. The greatest challenge I had was just some of the little things, nothing too challenging happened, I would say maybe just the general organizing and the planning for it took a while.
What advice would you give to others who are thinking about organizing a tournament fundraiser?
I think that the biggest advice I would give would to not be so close minded to who plays in [your tournament]. I had friends who had never played soccer become super interested in playing and they even became more interested in the game after the tournament. So definitely during the time you're organizing it, try to reach out to everyone, and realize that that is the beauty behind soccer.
What is your overall takeaway from this experience?
My overall takeaway is something that I realized that I feel that everyone should be aware of. Sports aren’t made specifically for one group of people, anyone can join. It's so important to remember that you didn’t start playing the sport you play currently because you wanted to go pro, you played because it was fun and you got to hangout with a bunch of other people who also thought it was fun...and that is what brought you together.
Feeling inspired? Well, you too can fundraise for SWB! Visit our website to learn how you can set up your own crowdfunding page and do your part to help us create a more inclusive and equitable world through the game of soccer!