Soccer Takes Over

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It’s official. With the World Cup kicking off today, it seems like everyone has soccer on the brain.

The month-long competition that pits the best footballers in the world battling for FIFA’s World Cup Trophy kicked off today with host country Brazil battling Croatia. And while many people may be glued to their TV sets from June 12 to July 13, other events in Milwaukee bring “the beautiful game” closer to home.


Futsal, or five-a-side or mini-soccer, will be on the menu for a pair of matches in Milwaukee. The game is similar to soccer, but with only five players on a team, a smaller ball, and is played on a basketball-sized court, either indoors or out. The U. S. National team plays the French National team at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Kern Center, 1245 N. Broadway.


“It’s going to be wonderful that Milwaukee will be the epicenter of futsal in the U.S.,” says Keith Tozer, coach of the U.S. Futsal National Team and director of the K Tozer Futsal Academy.


Then on Saturday, the two teams meet again at 7 p.m. Admission to both games is free.


Prior to Saturday’s match, Juneau Avenue between Trinity Three Irish Pub and Water Street will be closed to celebrate 2014 National Futsalfest. Check out the fest from 1 p.m. – 7 p.m. and enjoy cage futsal (a one-on-one form of the game), along with music, food, World Cup viewing and a vendor village.


After Futsalfest wraps up, check out the second-annual Lakefront Soccerfest on Sunday, June 15 at Milwaukee’s Veterans Park, 1010 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr. Anyone ages 7 and up can participate. Throughout the day, people can play in three-on-three soccer games (though organizers are quick to point out it’s not a tourney) and also practice their skills in soccer-related activities. It’s purported to be one of the largest soccer festivals in the Midwest.


The event is free to the public, but volunteers will be collecting “gently used” soccer equipment for local youth players in need.


The U.S. plays their first game against Ghana on Monday at 5 p.m. Many local bars will be carrying the game, including the Nomad World Pub, which recently ran into some controversy.


On June 22, catch the U.S. and Portugal match at 5 p.m. at the Milwaukee Kickers Soccer Club viewing party. Located at Uihlein Soccer Park, 7101 W. Good Hope Rd., the game will be broadcast on a big screen on one of the fields. It is a family friendly event from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. with games, raffle prizes, food and drink. There will also be soccer matches for children and a visit from 2014 World Cup mascot, Fuelco.


And if watching the World Cup brings out your competitive juices, check out World Cup Milwaukee, hosted by St. Anthony School on June 21-22 and 28-29. Boys and girls ages 11-14, high school boys and adult men 18 and older can compete in a futsal tournament at the St. Anthony Sports Complex, 4807 S. 2nd St. The 48 youth teams and 16 adult teams will represent the countries playing in the World Cup. The winners of each division will qualify for the World Futsal Championships at Walt Disney World in early August. Registration for teams and individuals is still open.


But wait, there’s more. If soccer is really not your thing, but you still want to take part in the World Cup craze, maybe Wines of the World Cup is more appropriate. America SCORES Milwaukee is hosting the event on Thursday, June 26 from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. at Ginger Tapas Bar, 235 S. 2nd St. The bar will feature wine and tapas from the different countries represented at the World Cup, along with music from Smooth Bossa Nova. America SCORES Milwaukee is the outreach program of the Milwaukee Kickers Soccer Club that brings soccer, creative writing and community service through an after school program to Milwaukee’s inner-city kids.


To be a part of the World Cup does not mean you have to be in Brazil. Whatever your interest is, Milwaukee will bring the action to a pitch (or pub) near you.


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