Students play in NU’s first ‘World Cup’

Lilia Hargis

While many Northwestern students stayed in to watch the NCAA March Madness Final Four games Saturday, others entered a tournament of another kind: the first ever NU World Cup of Soccer.

The 16-team soccer tournament was organized by the International Student Association and co-sponsored by the association and other cultural organizations on campus. The all-day event was free, beginning with registration at 8 a.m. and ending with an awards ceremony at 8 p.m.

Alianza, the Japan Club and AIESEC, which held its Global Village cultural event Sunday, also sponsored the event. The tournament was intended for “Northwestern student groups with a mission to promote diversity and intercultural collaboration,” according to the ISA Web site.

The World Cup kicked off Thursday with a bar night at the 1800 Club, 1800 Sherman Ave. The dress code required attendees to wear sportswear in the spirit of the event.

Meixi Ng, a SESP sophomore and vice president of International Student Association, said she noticed the cultural diversity of NU’s student body when she first arrived on campus. Ng, a Singapore native, helped organize the event to showcase this diversity, she said.

The association chose soccer because of the sport’s popularity on campus, especially among international students, as well as its popularity across the world, Ng said.

“The sport of soccer is a home thing for all of us, and it brings people together,” she said.

Each of the 16 teams in the tournament represented a different country. Some countries’ teams, like Turkey and Poland, were made up of international students from those countries. Other teams, like team Djibouti and team Faroe Islands , were comprised of members of other campus groups or groups of friends.

The tournament moved to different NU fields throughout the day, based on the fields’ availability. After about 11 hours of games and cultural performances, team Faroe Islands won the final match. Several other awards were also given, including the best goal celebration and most dedicated fans.

Registration for the event filled after about two weeks, and the event could only accommodate the first 16 teams of the 24 that registered, said Publicity Chair Maria Ptouchkina.

She said the association hopes to make the NU World Cup an annual event. Possible changes for next year include increasing the tournament size and lengthening the event to two days to allow more teams to participate, Ptouchkina said.

International Student Association President Alex Jeffers said he was “really impressed” by students’ enthusiasm for the tournament and agreed it will likely become an annual event.

“These events are always easier and better the second time around, so there is no reason not to do it again,” the Weinberg junior said.

McCormick freshman Nana Kwaku played on team Holland in the tournament. Though Kwaku is not a Holland native, he said it was interesting to observe the enthusiasm of students who chose to represent their home country.

“It was really cool that a lot of countries got to represent themselves and sang songs and cheered in their languages,” he said.

[email protected]