“Yeah!!” That was one of the many outbursts coming from the competitors at Saturday’s soccer tournament organized by the International Student Soccer Association (ISSA).
But the game was not on grass, it was on a screen.
“We wanted to do a soccer tournament,” Nayef Abdulrahman, VP finance of ISSA said. They had to face the reality of Montreal’s seasons, and ended up with a PlayStation tournament instead of the real thing.
In total 16 teams of two competed for the grand prize of $160. The lucky winners were Cuneyt Oeturk and Mustafa Tatlici of the Fenerbahce team. But the tournament did not only benefit them, half of the funds were given away to DIMBARS, a humanitarian organization that helps children in Central Africa through building soccer schools.
“We hope to show the humanitarian side of soccer” Abdulrahman said, promising that future events would also benefit charities, but that the prizes were there to lure people out of their own living rooms. “Everyone has a playstation themselves, you know.”
And judging by the intensitywith which contestants played they were enjoying the competition.
The ISSA is a relatively new organization, created less than a year ago, but already has about 300 members. The seven organizers are all founding members, but now they are looking for more people to get involved.
“We wanted to start something that would never die out,” president Ramy Camel-Toueg said. He, like the other founders, is in his final year at Concordia and wants people to continue building the club next year. The passion for the game was definitely present. “We all love soccer,” he said and sprinted off to finish his game.
But the room was noticeably testosterone-laden, not one woman was part of the competition. Abdulrahman said he only knows one woman who plays the PlayStation game, but that she didn’t want to participate. But once the weather warms up ISSA plans some real soccer-tournaments, and they hope girls will be more eager to participate then.
One of the principles behind the organization is that it’s non-political. Abdulrahman said they just wanted to start an organization for those who want to play soccer, where the members can unite over the love of the game. “One language everyone can speak is soccer,” he said and pointed to the multi-national room.
The guys hope to start a soccer league next year, but that would require some funding. Right now the organization is run by donations only.
The ISSA promises to organize a real soccer tournament in May. Thirty-two teams will compete against each other in the spirit of this summer’s World Cup. As for the prizes, the organizers said to “expect something nice.”