Mia Hamm Helps Launch Entertainment Industry Soccer Tournament

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LAFEST co-founders Mia Hamm and Dylan Leiner

LAFEST, co-founded by sports couple Hamm and Nomar Garciaparra, will feature separate youth and celebrity tournaments with proceeds benefiting bone marrow and HIV awareness charities.

Los Angeles entertainment industry executives and media professionals are trading in their Bruno Maglis and Jimmy Choos for soccer cleats and shin guards.

The L.A. Film & Entertainment Soccer Tournament (LAFEST) is kicking off its first annual entertainment industry soccer event at the Home Depot Center on March 24.

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The event will feature a five-on-five soccer tournament featuring industry professionals, a youth soccer tournament, and the Mia Hamm & Nomar Garciaparra Celebrity Soccer Challenge, which is in its fourth year. The event's proceeds will benefit the Mia Hamm Foundation, which raises funds and awareness for families in need of a marrow or cord blood transplant, and Grassroot Soccer, which uses soccer to educate and empower communities to stop the spread of HIV.

Celebrities scheduled to appear include husband-and-wife sports couple Hamm and Garciaparra, and Ethan Zohn, Survivor: Africa winner and Grassroot Soccer Co-Founder. A full list of celebrities will be announced at a later time.

“We are so excited to partner with LAFEST and Grassroot Soccer to create this unique event where as player or fan there is so much to experience,” Hamm said in a statement. “Celebrating the sport we love within a festival atmosphere will only increase the opportunity to further grow awareness for these important causes. I have no doubt that this new partnership will enable us to build on the momentum we've generated from previous years and have the most successful event to date.”

LAFEST was founded by New York Film and Entertainment Soccer Tournament (NYFEST) founders: Sony Pictures Classics executive vp acquisitions and production Dylan Leiner, filmmaker and former professional soccer player Jeffrey Saunders, the Mia Hamm and Nomar Garciaparra Celebrity Soccer Challenge and Zohn's Grassroot Soccer.

The New York event was founded in 2011 as a way to bring industry professionals who were also hardcore soccer fans together for a charitable cause. Past participants in the NYFEST included members of The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and ESPN and notable celebrities Orlando Bloom, Ethan Hawke, Andrew Shue, SNL's Andy Samberg, Kobe Bryant and L.A. Galaxy soccer star Landon Donovan.

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“When we came up with the idea for NYFEST a few years ago, we always hoped to one day launch a similar type event in the entertainment capital of the world, but we knew it depended on the right partners to make the event a reality," LAFEST’s Leiner and Saunders said in a statement. "In the Mia Hamm and Nomar Garciaparra Challenge and Ethan Zohn and Grassroot Soccer we have found not only the perfect partners, but two incredible foundations to which we are so proud to be able to lend our support. That L.A. is also home to Major League Soccer’s reigning champions is the icing on the cake.”

"I am fired up to be a part of the inaugural LAFEST and grateful to have Grassroot Soccer, which uses the power of soccer in the fight against AIDS, as one of the beneficiaries," Zohn said in a statement. "Having been a part of both NYFEST and the Mia Hamm and Nomar Garciaparra Celebrity Soccer Challenge, I know that bringing them together on the west coast for LAFEST promises to be a fun and inspirational day."

LAFEST will host a launch reception in Park City during the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 21.

To register a team or to find out more about LAFEST, visit www.lafest.net.

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