Every year Knox students, faculty, and even Galesburg and Quad Cities residents gather outside for a day of music and soccer at the Harambee soccer tournament.
The tournament is an annual event that happens near the end of every spring term. This past Saturday, fourteen teams, consisting of at least 10 players each, battled on the soccer field behind I-House. Each team named themselves after a country.
The countries chosen ranged from the top teams in the world—England, Italy, and the Netherlands—to countries which have not been as successful—Hungary, Nepal, and Australia—to countries which do not actually exist—Nocturnia.
The teams were sorted into four groups. The first and second place teams in those groups played in a single elimination tournament. In the quarterfinals, Mexico beat Hungary 4-3. Italy beat Associate Professor of Theatre Neil Blackadder’s England 3-1. Netherlands beat the USA, which was made almost completely of Prairie Fire men’s soccer players, 3-2. And Nocturnia beat Nepal 3-1. The semifinal matches were determined to be Mexico vs. Netherlands and Italy vs. Nocturnia.
The team that represented Mexico was comprised of individuals who were from Monmouth and Carl Sandburg Colleges, and the Netherlands team, captained by junior Alex Vaassen, was mainly from Knox. At the end of regulation time, the game was tied at 1-1 with goals coming from Javier Carrillo, a CSC soccer player, and Justin Williams. At the end of overtime, the teams were still tied and went to a penalty shoot-out, which lasted irregularly long, but finally ended 7-6 in favor of Mexico.
The other match was not quite so close. Italy was comprised of a group of friends from Kewanee, all dressed in Inter Milan jerseys. Nocturnia was comprised of Knox students and friends from countries all around the globe, including Brazil, Nigeria, France, and Myanmar. In the end, Nocturnia won 4-0 with Knox senior Abasam Onyia scoring a hat trick, and former CSC soccer player Ovuokero “Voke” Omu netting the fourth goal.
Around 5 p.m., the teams took the field for the final—Nocturnia vs. Mexico. The captains shook hands, and the game was under way. About half way through the first half, junior Loli Povoas from Brazil scored the first goal for Nocturnia. Not long after, Sade Akpore scored the second leaving the game 2-0 at half time. After a few good chances on goal, the second half ended goal-less and Nocturnia was crowned the Harambee soccer tournament champions of 2009. The third place game had ended minutes before, and after beating Netherlands 4-0, Italy was awarded third place.
The members of Nocturnia see many factors that led to their success.
“We just picked a good, well balanced team,” said Nocturnia captain and Knox senior Jim Michaux. “We won because of good team play and keeping everyone fresh, unlike Knox soccer.”
Senior Loli Povoas commented that they had players picked not just because of their ability, but because of the positions they played. Senior Nora Nelson joked they won because their goalkeeper wore winter gloves as opposed to regular gloves. Whatever the reason, it is undoubtable that their defense outperformed every other team. Nocturnia goalkeeper Ben Wright, a senior, only got scored on once.
Some wondered where Nocturnia came from. Michaux joked Nocturnia was a country which bordered all of those. Actually, the team was named after Nocturnal, a party planning company owned by many of the players.
Overall, the tournament was “a huge success” according to senior and Harambee president Abena Quianoo. An estimated 180-plus people showed up for the tournament.
“It was probably the largest turnout and number of teams in recent years,” Quianoo said. “The atmosphere was great as we had people coming in and out just to grab food off the barbeque or to dance to our music. We had plenty of good food for everyone and everything ran pretty smoothly from beginning to end!”
All attendees seem to agree the Harambee tournament was the place to be last Saturday.
“Harambee was great,” said freshman Jeremy Shaw. “It was nice to see different groups of people come out.”
Indeed, for anyone who enjoys sitting in the sun, eating a cheeseburger, and watching some soccer, this was an amazing way to spend a Saturday.
Wright summed up the success of the event best.
“It was badass,” he said.