The ATL Champions League celebrated its fifth edition last Sunday at Grady Stadium. The Soccer in the Streets fundraiser brings together Atlanta soccer supporters representing some of the world's most decorated clubs. This year's event set a new record with nearly $90,000 raised for metro Atlanta soccer based youth development programming.
2015 also saw some very special guests participating. Chelsea were joined by Paul Canoville, the first black player to feature for the Blues. MLS Atlanta participated as a team for the first time and their squad was strengthened by club president Darren Eales and technical director Carlos Bocanegra.
The Tottenham squad, supported by ATL Spurs, recruited two former legends in Edgar Davids and Steve Archibald. They were also joined by Steven Yeun, Glenn on TV's The Walking Dead. The star power carried Spurs to the Final, where they were defeated by Manchester United 3-1.
"I think Soccer in the Streets is very important for the kids," Steven said. "You get to build character through a sport that's awesome and globally known and then you get to teach kids skills so they can come back and really help their communities."
United, sponsored by Ben McKenzie's AtlantaBen.com, had reached the Final the last two consecutive years without winning. They controlled this year's match from the start and took advantage of a Spurs squad that survived a tiebreaker over Liverpool and Bayern Munich to win their group.
As a fundraiser, this event really has multiple winners. The efforts of Liverpool, heavily backed by the LFC Atlanta supporters group, were rewarded as they claimed the top spot in the fundraising table. Their players raised nearly $20,000 as a team for Soccer in the Streets programs. Captain Ben Butler won the individual fundraising crown for the second consecutive year.
The biggest winners are the kids of Soccer in the Streets. In addition to the valuable program support this event provides, ten teenagers were selected to participate in the event. Each team had a Soccer in the Streets participate join them for the day, providing them memories they'll never forget.
You can learn more about Soccer in the Streets at www.soccerstreets.org.