MONTREAL —; The annual Goal MTL soccer tournament took place at McGill’s Percival Molson Stadium on Sunday. The charity event brought together 25 teams representing some of the city’s biggest bars and restaurants, as well as a couple of businesses.
Since its beginnings in 2011, the soccer tournament has raised $200,000 for local charities that run youth-oriented programs —; around $40,000 this year alone.
“This is our fourth year we’ve been doing it,” said Jackie Easey of Vigilant Global. “Montreal Community Cares and Tyndale St-Georges are super close to our hearts, and we like helping out those in our backyard.”
On Sunday, teams took to the fields once again to battle it out for a good cause.
“We just opened, and we wanted to make sure that we were participating right away with this great event,” said Massimo Lecas, co-owner of Fiorellino Snack Bar which opened earlier this year.
The charitable tournament is the brainchild of the owners of a local pub.
“When we opened 8 years ago, it’s all about soccer,” said Paul Desbaillets, co-owner of the Burgundy Lion Pub and organizer of the Goal MTL event. “We wanted to do a charity-driven event that would fit with what we do.”
For the past 6 years, the money raised has gone to the Tyndale St-Georges Community Center in Little Burgundy.
“There is nothing better and more important than giving back to the community,” said Desbaillets.
For the first time last year, funds allowed Goal MTL to add another recipient to its roster, Montreal Community Cares, which looks to empower at-risk youth.
“It’s basically trying to help us to become young men and leaders in the community, trying to help us bring us together, trying to build team sportsmanship and stuff like that,” said Jamall Fischer who is one of the organization’s participants.
Montreal Community Cares told Global News that the money raised through the tournament has allowed it to reach its goals.
“What it does is it helps our leadership program and it gives the kids an opportunity to experience different things,” said Denburk Reid, the founder of the organization. “So we get a chance to travel, and to play basketball, and to do leadership workshops at the same time.”
This is the first year that the Goal MTL tournament coincides with a major international soccer event, so organizers invited Icelandic team supporters to come out, watch the game on the big screen and show their love for soccer.
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“I’m really excited,” said 11-year-old Rakel Davidsdottir whose family moved to Montreal from Iceland two years ago. “I mean my family is obsessed with soccer and when we lived in Iceland we used to go to so many games, and I’m really excited that Iceland has made it this far.”
Despite the island-nation’s loss to France in Sunday’s Euro Cup quarter-final, spirits ran high throughout the afternoon.
Desbaillets hopes the event will continue growing so that Goal MTL can continue helping youth in need.