The Madame Gougousse Haiti Cup amateur soccer tournament where grown men – and sometimes kids – go to play out their soccer dreams, kicks off Sunday, March 5 at Florida International University’s North Miami stadium grounds with two games, carnival masqueraders and Haitian Superband KLASS.
This is the 17th year.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Patrick Fabre, the South Florida music promoter and soccer aficionado who founded the sporting events that marries Haitians’ two passions: futbol and music. “Not only have we established a competitive soccer tournament in the community, but we have gotten the satisfaction of seeing every weekend that the people have some place to go.”
In the summer, Fabre introduced a shorter edition of the tourney, the Super 8, where the final four best teams competed for $10,000 first place and $5,000 runner-up prize.
While it drew a crowd, it is the main event where this season’s 16 teams will compete for a $13,000 first place prize (second and third place prizes are respectively $6,000 and $3,000) that easily draws crowds of 5,000 or more every Sunday. The championship game takes place on May 21, the same weekend as Miami’s biggest Haitian music festival, the 19th annual Haitian Compas Festival.
“They meet new friends, they meet old friends; they come as a family and go back home and get ready to work,” Fabre said about his tourney. “Kids could be on the streets doing something else but we provide a venue that can bring everybody together in a joyful way.”
If you’re not into soccer, but love music then that’s okay, too. During the games, Rara Lakay, keeps the crowd motivated and the excitement going with its infectious drum beats and blaring carnival horns from the stands.
And at night’s end, it all rounds up with a party at the back of the stadium featuring Haiti’s scintillating soundtrack, konpa, played by top bands like T-Vice and dISIP. Superband KLASS kicks off the tournament.
“It’s not everybody who has a chance to go to those night parties,” said Edersse “Pipo” Stanis, lead singer of KLASS. “These kind of festivities permit everybody to have a chance to enjoy a band like KLASS.”
Said Fabre: “It’s a great way to pass it onto the next generation, get them use to the culture especially the kids, a lot of whom weren’t born here.”
IF YOU GO
When: Doors open at 5 p.m.; 5:30 p.m. Youth game featuring kids from Little Haiti soccer program; 7:30 p.m. with Gonaives vs. Okap.
Where: North Miami Athletic Stadium, 2155 NE 151st St., North Miami
Cost: $10 at the stadium