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A Beautiful Game: Evanston's 5th Annual Unity Soccer Festival is Saturday, July 13

Tomorrow, in France, Megan Rapinoe and the rest of the US Women's World Cup soccer team take on The Netherlands, Europe's reigning champs, in the highly anticipated finale of what's been an incredibly exciting run for the U.S.

But perhaps even more thrilling is what's happening right here in Evanston next Saturday, when the whole community is invited to the 5th Annual Unity Soccer Festival from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Kamen East and Kamen West Park (South Blvd, between Ridge and Asbury). Here, says Festival Chair Elliott Hurtig, the goal is NOT the goals and everyone who plays is a winner.

"I love soccer because it's a beautiful game. It's spontaneous. It's poetry in motion" says Hurtig, who graduated from Evanston Township High School (ETHS) in 1982 and played on the soccer team. "And everyone in the world plays soccer. It's THE sport that unifies people from every generation and every country."

Though Saturday’s players will mostly be adults (several ETHS high school and ETHS alumni teams will play), everyone's encouraged to kick back and enjoy the fancy footwork, food from Curt's Cafe and La Principal, a Djembe drum group led by Tony Garrett, and deejaying by Harold Bailey.

Hurtig lives in Evanston and teaches English and coaches soccer at Deerfield High School. He credits the rest of the organizing team--Michael Muyres, Howard Hartenstein, Noel Abbott, and Stephen Favakeh for pulling this family-friendly event together. The inspiration for the event, Hurtig says, came from the hope that it would help build bridges among members of our community who do not usually interact.

"The purpose of this festival is to celebrate soccer and the diverse people who play the game. Everyone who plays is a winner," says Hurtig. "There'll be no referees, we won't keep score, and everyone will play the same number of games. The tournament is a great opportunity to bring friends, family, and neighbors together."

Here are the details:

-- Fee: $50 per team. All proceeds from this event will support the Ridgeville Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization (read about the foundation here.)

-- You do NOT have to be an Evanston resident to play.

-- Game Divisions: There will be three different divisions of play:

**Marley: This is for the youngest players seeking the most “competitive” game yet still keeping it mellow and “Irie.”

**Chavez: This middle group is for players ages 30 to 45.

**M.L.K.: This older age group is for those players over 40 who want to mainly survive the experience of playing three games.

-- Uniforms: Ridgeville Park District will not provide team jerseys. Teams are responsible for wearing some sort of unified color. Pennies will be available for teams who wear conflicting colors.

-- Number of players per team: There is no maximum, but teams should show up with no less than five players. A healthy roster has five or six players. Extra players are required to ensure that games can continue if unexpected absences occur.

-- Game duration: 20 minutes straight. No halftime break. Every team is guaranteed at least three games.

-- Substitution: Subs must come on at midfield and can happen any time the ball goes out of bounds or there is a stoppage of play.

-- Kick-offs: Kick-offs may be kicked in any direction. Ball must be over the mid-line to score. No throw ins, all balls are kicked in from the sidelines. All kicks are indirect. Players must move 5 yards away from any indirect kick.

-- The Goal Box: No one allowed in the goal box area. If ball stops moving in box, the defensive team can get it. Please do not play “goalie” and hang out in front of your goal. That is not in the spirit of the game.

-- Slide Tackles: Absolutely NO slide tackles.

-- This is a family friendly event. Although the participants will all be adult men and women, kids are encouraged to come watch.


Click here to register.

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