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Let’s Kick It! Earth Day Soccer Classic and Celebration

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It’s time to play ball! Join us for soccer, solar and sustainability on April 12 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the bi-continental Earth Day Soccer Classic and Earth Day Celebration featuring an all-day soccer tournament, solar cookout, live entertainment, hands-on activities, demonstrations and a chance to give back.

For those of you who have been following this story, you know that Green Living magazine is teaming up with Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability, Sun Devil Fitness and Tempe Sister Cities to bring you a soccer tournament that highlights the philanthropic work of Royal Philips and One World Futbol.

We hope all of you soccer enthusiasts have signed up to play that day (if you are reading this in early April, there is still time) and that you sustainability enthusiasts will be there as we celebrate renewable energy victories in Africa (specifically Ghana) and Arizona, Earth Day and pioneers in sustainable business.

We caught up with some of the players including a team of ASU MasterCard Foundation Scholars and a PhD student from Ghana. The ASU MasterCard Foundation Scholarship program awards students from Sub-Saharan Africa who come from the poorest communities and demonstrate exceptional leadership and academic talent. These students have served their communities and schools and have committed to return to Africa after attending ASU to further their positive impact.

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One of these students, Ngoni Mugwisi from Zimbabwe, is particularly excited to play in the tournament, recalling his transformational experience playing street soccer as a young boy. “Playing soccer was an integral part of my upbringing. From a young age I was playing with my friends on the dusty streets of Mkoba, in my hometown, Gweru. That contributed a lot to my personal development. Soccer is a team sport that enhances communication and quick decision making while promoting friendly competition.”

Ngoni added, “Most kids in my country still play street soccer regularly…there isn’t much video gaming to talk about. However, although they do not lack in talent or passion, these kids do not have access to actual soccer balls. They usually resort to making balls out of plastic, paper or cloth that is piled together into a roughly spherical shape. Playing in the Earth Day Soccer Classic provides hope to change this situation since funds from the tournament can be used to provide African communities with long-term and durable soccer balls. There is no limit to the great soccer talent that can be discovered on African streets, and by playing in this tournament I feel that I am contributing to nurturing that talent.”

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Top row from left to right: Nokwanda Ramathero, Jossel Disengi Nkunzi, Joan Kwamboka, Ngoni Mugwisi, Mariama Salifu. Bottom row: Ernest Nkansah-Dwamena. Photo by Nora Kuby.

One World Futbol knows all too well the power that soccer can have on youth in Africa and of their struggle to find a decent ball with which to play. That is why their mission is to bring nearly indestructible balls to deserving youth. The Earth Day Soccer Classic will use One World Futbols in the tournament and will have a fundraising web page where you can purchase a ball for $40, with a second ball going to Africa, or you can just buy a ball to be sent to Africa for $25.

Ernest Nkansah-Dwamena, a PhD student from Ghana, echoed Ngoni’s enthusiasm, saying, “There is no greater excitement than showcasing my beloved country Ghana at the forefront of soccer and I just can’t be prouder than being a part of making this happen.” Ernest continued, “This is also an opportunity to reinforce ASU’s School of Sustainability goals of building a community with a sense of belonging, a community where ideas are created and shared together and a community that believes in the future.”

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Mariama Salifu, one of the MasterCard Scholars, is from Ghana. The day before the Earth Day Soccer Classic in Tempe, Mariama’s brother Shafic Osman will be coordinating a soccer tournament with his soccer league, Top Ten Football Academy, in Accra, Ghana, on one of Royal Philips’ Community Light Centers fields.

Local soccer player, Nora Kuby, is thrilled to have a team playing in the tournament. “There is a poetic beauty in supporting clean energy as well as helping our friends in Ghana, all while playing the world’s favorite sport. Soccer brings people together, and as a participant in the tournament, I love knowing that not only am I making new friends and having a wonderful time myself, but that I am a part of something bigger and more important than the tournament itself.”

In addition to the soccer games at the event, we will also host a solar oven cookout, brought to us by the Community Christian Church and Arizona Interfaith Power & Light. Join us to taste the renewable goodness of a solar -cooked quesadilla, among other savory solar samples.

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We will be collecting electronic waste, also known as e-waste, to help you with spring de-cluttering. So if it has a plug or battery and is sitting in your junk drawer, attic, garage, storage unit, and/or is obsolete or broken, bring it with you. We also will be offering document shredding.

Remember, this event is an all-day tournament. It is highly suggested you bring reusable water bottles (there will be water stations), sun protection, and a chair or blanket so you can relax and watch several games.

Concessions will be sold by Tempe Sister Cities with the goal to donate funds to Tempe’s Sister City, Timbuktu, Mali, a large African nation north of Ghana, which has gone through trying times in recent years. Local businesses and community groups will also be at the Earth Day Soccer Classic showing off their sustainability initiatives. Plans are underway to have additional entertainment such as African or hip-hop dancers and a community art project led by local environmental artist, Joan Baron.

The event kicks off at 8 a.m. and continues all day until the end of the championship game at 9 p.m. We look forward to seeing you, your friends and family there! Happy Earth Month!

And a great day of activities, entertainment and soccer is our GOAL!