Thirty-eight youth soccer teams will converge on Tiverton this weekend at the upper and lower fields of the on Main Road for the third annual Soccer Rhode Island (SRI) Festival to benefit the Megan L. Cordeiro Scholarship Fund.
Sponsored by Soccer Rhode Island, the festival is one of four tournaments scheduled across the state next weekend. It is a free “patch event," meaning teams will exchange patches from their home teams with those of their opponents. Money raised at the event will provide a $1,500 scholarship for a female senior soccer player at (THS).
The Tiverton event is a little different, however. In addition to an opportunity to display their love for the sport and exchange team patches, players here will pay tribute to a young girl whose memory looms large among the many individuals her story has touched.
Megan Cordeiro, who played on the Tiverton Youth Soccer League, lost her battle with acute myelogenous lukemia on June 5, 2008. She was 11 years old. Her parents, John and Teresa Cordeiro, started the scholarship fund along with the Megan L. Cordeiro Memorial Foundation in her memory.
Originally diagnosed when she was 10, Megan was treated successfully and went into remission. When her illness returned, she received a precious bone marrow donation from her sister, Chelsea, and her family and friends believed the disease was gone for good.
It wasn’t, and to the horror of those who loved her, she relapsed into her final bout with the illness. Megan’s strength and bravery are beyond remarkable and are chronicled on a website developed by the Cordeiros, www.milesformegan.com. In addition to the soccer festival, the annual “Miles for Megan” road race is scheduled for the fall, and according to Teresa Cordeiro they are already planning for that event.
This weekend’s, soccer festival is an opportunity to raise funds to help fund the Cordeiros’ ongoing efforts. Because the event is free, only money raised at “extensive concession stands,” along with face painting, raffles, and the sale of trinkets and T-shirts will be collected for the scholarship fund, John Cordeiro said. Of course, he noted, there will also be donation jars set up and anyone may go online to make a donation. If enough money is raised, Cordeiro added, two scholarships will be given.
According to Mr. Cordeiro, Chris Messenger, the head coach of the high school girls’ soccer team, who once coached one of Megan’s youth teams, always gave a plaque to a special THS senior.
“Teresa and I decided to attach a monetary award to it,” John Cordeiro said. The award, according to Cordeiro, is given to a player who during her high school career “demonstrated the same qualities Megan had when she played.”
“Megan truly loved the game,” Mr. Cordeiro added. “She didn’t need to be a star, and would just as soon pass the ball to get the assist. She played because she loved to play.”
She was only five when she began to play, her father recalled, and she was soon playing year-round both indoors and outdoors. After her passing, the Cordeiros approached Soccer Rhode Island to see if Tiverton could host one of the annual tournaments and use it as a fundraiser. SRI agreed and will provide the referees and bouncy houses for the event. Because it is a free tournament, Cordeiro explains, only funds from extra activities can be collected. T-shirts and raffle tickets will be sold at the three other SRI tournaments taking place throughout the state next weekend, featuring Megan’s familiar bumblebee symbol.
Perhaps the most impressive feature of the fundraiser is a handmade soccer theme quilt. One of the sections, Mr. Cordeiro noted, is made by his wife. Tireless in her fundraising efforts, he explained that Teresa went to her quilting group and asked them if they would be interested in the project.
Activities scheduled for June 4 and 5 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. include bouncy houses, face painting, raffles, plenty of good food, and of course, soccer. The tournament is a free “patch event," meaning teams will exchange patches from their home teams with those of their opponents. Money raised at the event will provide a $1,500 scholarship for a female senior soccer player at THS.
Donations for the scholarship fund or the foundation may be make online or sent to MLC Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 339, Tiverton, RI 02878.