Aviano soccer players play to brighten up Belarus kids' lives
July 8, 2004
PIANTE D’AVIANO, Italy — For the third straight year, the base soccer team at Aviano is donating a day on the pitch to help bring some sunshine to needy kids.
The team will be one of 15 taking part in a daylong tournament Sunday in a nearby community to raise money to bring more than two dozen kids from Belarus to Italy. The tournament, put on by the group Il Sole Dopo La Nube — or the Sun After the Cloud — has been generating funds for more than a decade. Most of the teams come from organizations in the Aviano area.
Lorenzo Torres, an Air Force master sergeant with the 31st Logistics Readiness Squadron, said it’s the last chance for the team to have some competition for the season — and it helps out a good cause at the same time.
But the brand of soccer is a bit different than what most of the Americans are used to. Because so many teams need to play so many games in a short period of time, the games are limited to 10 minutes each. And each squad consists of only seven players.
“It’s really fast-paced,” said Torres, who will serve as coach and also play. Though most members play on the base’s men’s team, they’ll also have a member of the women’s squad — Rebecca Lasch — on their side.
Action, which starts at 9:30 a.m., should end around nightfall with the championship game.
Torres said the base team hasn’t done all that well in the past, but he’s hopeful they’ll advance further this year.
“We always get stuck with the heavy teams,” he said.
Teams are playing in the tournament to raise money to bring children from Belarus — still having health problems after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986 — into Italy for a short stay in a healthier environment. Food booths will be set up at the event, with proceeds going to the effort. Donations also will be accepted at the tournament.
The fields are located behind a church less than a mile from Area 1 on the road leading to Castello d’Aviano.