LAFEST Showbiz Soccer Tournament Ready to Kick Up Fun, Funds for Youth

Hollywood Celebs and Pros Join Soccer
Bill Smithuysen

For showbiz types who get a kick out of playing soccer and want to help underserved communities to boot, the second annual LA Film and Entertainment Soccer Tournament (LAFEST) is just around the corner.

The tournament is a partnership between LAFEST and non-profit orgs Grassroot Soccer, which uses the sport to promote healthy lifestyles for children throughout the world, and the L.A. Galaxy Foundation, which is dedicated to assisting the pro soccer team’s surrounding community.

The tournament first came to be in 2011 in New York when Sony Pictures Classics exec Dylan Leiner and filmmaker Jeffrey Saunders created the NY Film and Entertainment Soccer Tournament to gather industry folks together for a day of soccer. “Our old friend (Tribeca Film Festival director) Geoff Gilmore loved the idea, so we hosted the event during the film festival and in the process raised money for charity,” recalls Leiner. “Our friends in L.A. kept asking us to do something similar on the West Coast, so we created LAFEST with our friend Ethan Zohn, who had won ‘Survivor: Africa’ and co-founded Grassroot Soccer.”

Now it’s become a fixture on both coasts. NYFEST was held last spring with such celebs as John Oliver, Ethan Hawke and Tim Blake Nelson participating.

There are three separate brackets for teams: Just for Fun, Intermediate and Competitive. And each team must include at least six members from the entertainment industry. The tournament will be held from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, at the StubHub Center. Registration to play in LAFEST is open until 5 p.m. Oct. 20 at lagalaxy.com/lafest.

Among the teams planning to participate so far are agencies CAA and ICM Partners; studios Sony Pictures Classics, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Bros. and Lionsgate; reality TV shows “Big Brother,” “The Amazing Race,” “Survivor” and “The Bachelor”; production companies Kennedy/Marshall and Anonymous Content; and Variety.

Among this year’s LAFEST sponsors is EA Sports FIFA 15. There will an online gaming stream as well, hosted by Tiltify.com, the first crowdfunding platform that allows visitors to raise money for charities using gaming streams. For LAFEST, Tiltify will host an online gaming stream at twitch.tv/tiltify in which members of the public can watch and even compete against some of their favorite stars playing EA SPORTS FIFA 15.

For Leiner, the feedback he’s received on LAFEST has been rewarding. “Colleagues in the industry tell me that NYFEST and LAFEST are among their favorite days of the entire year,” he says. “That we can bring together these two passion plays for people and benefit underserved youth in the process is spectacular for all of us.”

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