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European soccer rivalries help metro Atlanta kids | News

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European soccer rivalries help metro Atlanta kids

ATLANTA -- On two fields at Inman Park, European soccer rivalries ran deep on Sunday.

"It wasn't hard to divide the teams," said Bill Ford, one of the organizers. "Once we named them, everybody wanted to play for their team."

The team names included Liverpool, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Chelsea.

Fans who moved to metro Atlanta from 14 different nations used their passion for sport to make a difference.

They played to support Soccer in the Streets, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that now serves more than 2,000 students.

"It taught me leadership, responsibility, teamwork, socializing with people, communication," said Juan Lomeli, who joined the program when he was 15. 

The program uses soccer to help at-risk kids thrive at school and at home.

Samuel Lian, 12, joined the program a few months ago and has already been named captain of his team.

"The first time I played, I didn't know how to play," Lian said. "I practiced, and now I play more and more."

Money raised by the players in Sunday's tournament will pay to expand the program at three elementary schools in DeKalb County: McLendon, Indian Creek and Jolly Elementary School. The program at the Clarkston Community Center will also benefit.

Together, they raised more than $30,000.

"The one thing that binds us together is our love of soccer," Ford said.