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'Twenty-four hours of Soccer' Raises Funds for African AIDS Awareness

Walk-in participants welcome at today's event.

Drivers passing Hunnewell Field on Saturday or Sunday may have noticed a large soccer ball-shaped clock on the roadside. This is was the timer clock for the 24 hours of soccer fundraising event to benefit Grassroot Soccer.

"It's an attempt to do some good and have some fun," Peter Diana, the event organizer said. "The fun part's definitely working."

Diana put the event together because of his son's interest in soccer, specifically soccer in Africa. Grassroot Soccer is an organization which focuses on that, and uses it as a way to bring up AIDS and HIV to at-risk children. Every $25 earned pays for one African child's soccer program for a year. 

"I've seen the poverty in Africa, there's a lot to be done. Every little bit has potential to help children." Commented Ian Speers, a sophomore who volunteered as the event's first-aid staff. 

All players kicked off their shoes to run and play games barefoot. The games weren't played for points, but for fun. Teams of three, four or five (depending on player availability), squared off on the three fields marked out for the events.

In addition to funds raised through players' registration fees, players raised funds outside of Roche Bros., and held a raffle at the event. Raffle prizes included a $50 gift card to Thunder Sports, The Wave - soccer training equipment - and a pair of cleats signed by Boston Breakers' Leslie Osborne. Signed posters of the women's pro player were also available for $10. 

Ramon Tabtiang, a parent, said the event was "a great way for kids to do what they enjoy, think about a global connection, and do it for a good cause. Especially after the World Cup, this makes them think about a larger culture than America."

More than 200 kids, high schoolers, and even some New England Revolution fans who heard about the event through Twitter, registered for first annual soccer-thon. The coordinators also welcomed walk-ins and will continue to do so today. By their estimate, there were between $6,000 and $6,500 raised in registration fees, and about $850 from Roche Bros. fundraising. By their estimates, about 320 kids in Africa will have a year's soccer training. 

The event was originally scheduled to start Friday night and run into Saturday. However, due to concerns about Hurricane Earl's arrival, kick-off was postponed to Saturday. Unfortunately, Revolution midfielder Chris Tierney was unable to attend the new kick-off time because of a game on Saturday night. He planned to visit Sunday morning instead. 

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