The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



ND Men’s Soccer: Charity event to raise funds through soccer

Chris Allen | Thursday, September 23, 2010

For Irish coach Bobby Clark, teaching the game of soccer is a family affair. This is most evident through his son Tommy, a former soccer player at Dartmouth who founded Grassroot Soccer, an organization that looks to fight AIDS through the game of soccer.

The cause will be celebrated on Oct. 2 as Grassroot Soccer will stage its second annual Lose The Shoes ND tournament in the hopes of raising money for AIDS awareness. Although there have been nearly 100 Lose The Shoes tournaments held around the world, having a tournament at Notre Dame holds special meaning for Clark.

“I’ve been very close to the cause for a long time,” Clark said. “It all goes back to when Tommy was around 13 or 14 and I took the family to Zimbabwe. He played with a number of African teammates, and when he went back years later many of his teammates had died from AIDS.

“It was when he was in medical school that he came up with the idea for Grassroot Soccer, and now it’s pretty much his life.”

The tournament, which will be held on South Quad from 1 to 4:30 p.m., features an elimination-style tournament of 3-on-3 soccer with a $10 per person entry donation. Students will play barefoot, bringing the game back to its African roots and reminding the participants of the greater cause for which they are playing.

Tournament director and Mendoza MBA candidate Molly Iarocci said she believes the popularity of soccer at Notre Dame translates well to her project’s potential.

“The Lose Your Shoes tournament has been the best way for Grassroot to unite the younger generation around this cause,” Iarocci, who played women’s soccer at Notre Dame from 2004-07, said. “Coach Clark sees the love of the game around campus, with the Rakes of Mallow at men’s and women’s soccer games. That’s what will propel this tournament to the next level.”

The tournament is supported further by the men’s and women’s soccer programs, who are allowing the semifinals to be played at halftime of the women’s home match against St. John’s and the finals at halftime of the men’s match against Providence. Iarocci said she hopes that the prospect of playing at Alumni Stadium will draw more supporters to the tournament.

“We’re bringing it full circle by including the soccer programs,” Iarocci said. “We are utilizing all our resources, hoping to get more undergraduates involved in the tournament to sustain it over the years. We’re reaching out to the whole community, making sure that students are aware of this.”

Iarocci said she hopes the tournament will inspire people to donate even if they are not playing, and even expand the Lose Your Shoes concept to other universities.

“We’d love to get outside donations,” Iarocci said. “Ultimately, this is about people playing soccer but remembering what they are playing for and why they are playing.”

The deadline to apply to enter the tournament is Oct. 30 at 5 p.m.