On December 17, the Father Christmas Cup will return for its 14th edition. One of Atlanta’s great soccer traditions, the event raises money for local soccer families who have lost a loved one in the past year. This year, the event will take place at Atlanta Silverbacks Park.
The event chairman, Stephen O’Hare, has been involved from the beginning. “The Father Christmas Cup was conceived one night in September 2003. There were a few of us enjoying a beer at the old Fado Irish Pub on Peachtree,” O’Hare said. “The invasion of Iraq was earlier in the year and we were thinking of the men and women serving who would be missed at home that coming Christmas. We remembered the truce on Christmas Eve 1914 between the English and the German forces and the spontaneous game of soccer played in ‘no man’s land’.”
O’Hare continued, “At the time I ran a team in the CASL (Cobb Adult Soccer League) league in Cobb County and we challenged another team in the league known as ‘England G’ to a charity soccer game with the proceeds to be donated to the family of a soldier from Georgia who was killed in Iraq earlier in the year.”
The event has become more successful each year, and each one now benefits multiple soccer families. O’Hare said, “In the spirit of the Father Christmas Cup we continue to support the family of a Georgia hero who was killed in the line of duty. The greater Atlanta soccer community has grown considerably over the past decade and we support ‘soccer families’ in need who have lost a parent the previous year. We also memorialize folks that have passed who have contributed to our soccer community and recognize them on the day of the event, regardless of financial need.”
O’Hare continued, “The event has continued to grow in popularity I think primarily because of the community grassroots level involvement and the fact that we are an all volunteer organization. More than 96% of the funds raised go directly to families in need at Christmas time.”
If you would like to get involved, reach out to the event organizers at the event website. There will be a raffle and silent auction for some great prizes, including:
- autographed jerseys from Arsenal, Wolves, and Stoke City (sponsored by Global Image Sports)
- an autographed Leicester City jersey is available in the special YOUTH raffle
- gift certificates from local businesses and restaurants
- the raffle grand prize is two round trip tickets with Virgin Airlines/Delta and tickets to to Premier League games
Tickets can be bought on the day of the event, and in advance at the event website.
Atlanta United has consistently supported the event since its launch. O’Hare said, “I first met Darren Eales, the President of Atlanta United FC, at an event at Emory shortly after he arrived in Atlanta. An eminent historian from the UK was talking about the night of the truce in 1914, the ensuing soccer match and the record as a historical fact. Darren was immediately supportive and put his full support behind our event the following year. AUFC pulled a team together and played in the event. Both Darren and Carlos Bocanegra played (last year).”
For more updates on the Father Christmas Cup as they happen, follow the event page on Facebook.