Who: Soccer moms, players, coaches and lots of friends of Tony Sanneh’s foundation
What: Drinks, apps, a silent auction, awards, dancing, and mingling with soccer hot shots
Where: TCF Bank Stadium
When: Saturday, March 12, 2011
Why: The first annual gala raised funds for the foundation and shined a light on leaders in the field
On Saturday, the Who’s Who of the Twin Cities soccer scene kicked off the first annual Gala 4 Goals, a fundraiser for The Sanneh Foundation at the TCF Bank Stadium. The Sanneh Foundation, founded by former soccer pro Tony Sanneh—you know, that guy who provided an assist to Brian McBride to score a winning goal in the 2002 World Cup game against Portugal—supports programs that help urban youth succeed.
No wonder more than 600 soccer nuts filled the room, the night’s big draw were two special guests—Bob Bradley, the U.S. Men’s National Team coach and Cobi Jones, former player for the U.S. Men’s National Team and the Los Angeles Galaxy. Guests got the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ask Bradley questions, which he fielded on stage, and he and Jones were game to pose for pictures for fans throughout the night.
Good thing my “plus one” plays soccer, as I was out of my league with this crowd, knowing just enough about the sport for anyone to cry foul. But the night’s goal went beyond the field lines of the sport, of course.
“At the core of teambuilding is the idea that we try to get people to see beyond themselves,” Bradley said. Sure, his point underscores how teamwork equals success, but also how a community succeeds, which I found out is one of the core values of The Sanneh Foundation.
Founded in 2003, the foundation supports a variety of youth programs, from soccer camps to missions to Haiti, college preparation to cross-culture and anti-racism education. “I’ve had the community help raise me, that’s what I know, and that’s what I’m trying to reproduce,” Sanneh said.
After mingling and a silent auction, notably full of signed jerseys and balls from world-class players, it was time to shine a light on the foundation’s work and honor leaders who’ve made a difference in Minnesota soccer.
Buzz Lagos, founder of the Minnesota Thunder, former coach for St. Paul Academy and now Higher Ground Academy, and Tony Peszneker, a former soccer pro and current girls’ varsity soccer coach for Wayzata High School, were honored with lifetime achievement awards to a standing ovation. To make the night even sweeter, two outstanding teens, and a devoted soccer mom, were awarded scholarships for their leadership and dedication.
From the big turnout to the happy ending note, this gala was truly the perfect match—making kids’ lives better through soccer. Score!