Lose the Shoes fights AIDS

By Jamie Macpherson

Soccer has been called the sport of the world, a transcontinental culture, unifier of nations. This Saturday, however, two students will use soccer for a new purpose: to fight AIDS. Saturday afternoon on Shaw Field, Mac will host the “Lose the Shoes” barefoot soccer tournament, a 3v3 fundraiser promoting AIDS awareness for children in Africa. “[Lose the Shoes] appealed to us because we’re both people used to being involved,” Scott Petesch ’10, one of the event organizers said. “It was hard to find our niche.” Petesch explained how he and co-organizer Kelsey Speer ’10 wanted to use soccer to make a statement. “Soccer is the beautiful game,” he said. “It’s multicultural; it’s almost it’s own language.”

Lose the Shoes is part of the international organization Grassroots Soccer, founded by Tommy Clark, a former Survivor winner. Speer first heard about the organization back in her hometown of Madison, Wis. She and Petesch decided to team up with Mac orgs MIO and Face AIDS to put on their own branch of “Lose the Shoes.” Both organizations helped out by donating money, getting food from Café Mac, and hiring the Mac DJ club.

“[We’re focusing on] making this a positive experience,” Speer said. “We really hope it will make people want to come out [and do this] again next year.”

It’s certainly been an effective event so far. There are 27 teams signed up to play, out raising money to promote AIDS awareness in Africa.

“I think it’s a really great cause,” Zach Lazar ’10 said. Lazar will be competing in the more recreational bracket of the tournament, designed for those just out to kick a ball around. “I think it’s very important to be educating children in Africa about AIDS,” he said. “You need to do whatever necessary to find some way to draw the largest amount of people in [and get them to listen].”

For Ephraim Musokwa ’09, a student from Kabwe, Zambia, the tournament hits closer to home. “Everything that [Lose the Shoes] is trying to set up and do relates to where I’m from, and if you look at the [promotional] video, that’s exactly the type of environment I grew up in.” Musokwa will be playing in the more competitive bracket, which has a monetary prize for the winners.

“We don’t really care if we win,” he said. “Truth is, we also love to play soccer, so we enjoy this because it’s really worthwhile.” Upon reflection, however, Musokwa laughed and added, “but if we do lose, we’ll be sad.”

Speer said she would view the tournament as a success if they can draw out a large crowd and raise a lot of money. “We want [the participants] to be socially aware of what’s behind the event. It’s not just an opportunity to run around and play soccer, which is still fun, but to understand that this is an event to become socially active.