Soccer Balls for Haiti tourney looking for P.E.I. teams

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 By Brittany Reid

The Guardian

Pat Martel was in his basement getting his laundry done and listening to the radio shortly after Haiti had its huge earthquake in 2010.

There was an interview airing about people donating clothes and other basic neccessities to Haiti when Martel saw some soccer balls by his feet.

He started kicking them around when he decided to send soccer balls for the children, said Martel, a CBC journalist.

So he organized a fun indoor tournament where registration and donations go towards buying soccer balls for Haitian children.

The next edition of soccer balls for Haiti takes place March 1 and 2 (Friday evening and Saturday) at Stonepark Intermediate in Charlottetown. Martel wants to get the word out and get teams and registrations coming in as soon as possible.

They are trying to get 15 to 20 teams to register this year and there is still lots of space for people to register. Two teams play every hour with some teams even playing up to five hours.

“Some people want to play more then once, they have a lot of fun doing this,” said Martel.

“We even have some competition between teams like the Liberals versus the Conservatives and CBC versus The Guardian.”

The community support is great when the fundraiser is put on each year and Stonepark even lends them the gym to use for the tournament.

“We just have to keep it clean and they let us use it for free,” said Martel.

This year, the goal is to send up to 200 soccer balls. Families are encouraged to take part as it’s a great idea for family day.

All ages can play and for anyone who wants to register, just email soccer.jenny@yahoo.com and it’s $10 per person to register.

“I got in touch with Mary-Jean Irving and she said she would take as many as possible,” Martell recounts about that first year.

He managed to get Master Packaging as a sponsor and within the first year, was able to send 240 soccer balls to Haiti.

“We got discounts on the soccer balls we were buying from Soccer Stop,” said Martel. “They gave them to us for $10, which is the price of admission.”

They did another soccer tournament last year and managed to send 220 soccer balls.

The focus wasn’t really on Haiti anymore in the media, so that could’ve had an affect on the turnout for that year, said Martel.

“The University of Moncton made a video of how people were still affected there by the earthquake a year later, and it even showed what they had used for a soccer ball before. “

They would kick around a two-litre plastic pop bottle before they received the soccer balls from P.E.I.

There were people that went down to Haiti and took photos of them wearing their T-shirts and that photo is the one that goes on the T-shirts, said Martel.

“Some of the T-shirts we wore were made in Haiti.”

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