MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – It didn’t matter if they were from China, Hungary, the Middle East or West Virginia, West Virginia University community members came together Sunday in support of the world’s sport – soccer or “football.”

WVU students, employees, families and friends competed and watched the University’s second annual Mini World Cup finals, held on the Mountainlair green.

“An event like this is very important because it showcases the diversity we have on campus through a common sport – soccer. Arguably, soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world and thus, students can connect with each other through this sport despite their background or nationality,” said Eileen Huang, a professional accountancy graduate student from China who helped to organize the event.

In the past year, the Mini World Cup has grown substantially. The number of participants has nearly doubled, and the number of teams has increased from 22 to 32.

“The event has helped to bring many domestic and international students together, allowing them to not only compete, but meet and make friends as they share stories of their own cultures and views,” Huang said. “If increases like this continue each year, the event will become an instrumental activity at WVU that brings together all students in the spirit of competition.”

Listen to the Inside WVU podcast about the event

The 2009 Mini World Cup began on Oct. 11 with 32 teams. All students, faculty and staff were welcome to participate. The teams, composed of 7-10 players, competed every Sunday, eliminating a few each week. Four teams were left at the end: International, Gingerland, Hungary and Berkeley County.

“The sport is something that most people in the international community have grown up watching with their family and playing with their friends. I love playing it and it has been great meeting people from all over the world. It is something that makes you feel like home,” said Hesham Alabbar, a sophomore finance major from Bahrain, located in the Middle East. Alabbar was the captain of the International team.

Alabbar’s team, which he met through playing soccer recreationally, had players from Bolivia, Morocco, Columbia, Mexico and America.

At the end of the finals, Gingerland was declared the winner.

Each team member received a miniature trophy and gift certificate. The team’s name will be printed on a trophy that is displayed in the Vandalia Lounge of the Mountainlair and a plaque displayed in the Office of International Students and Scholars in Elizabeth Moore Hall.

During intermission, students who were not on a team were given the chance to participate in a shoot out for prizes.

This year’s competition was organized by the International Students Organization in the Office of International Students and Scholars. Sponsors include: WVU’s Office of Social Justice, Office of International Programs, Student Government Association, Student Affairs, Office of Student Employment, March-Westin and Zenclay.



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CONTACT: Colleen DeHart, News and Information Services