A charity soccer tournament at the Central Middle School field is scheduled for Aug. 19 and organizers are looking for participants for the “A Chance at Change in 1-Day Soccer Tournament.”

The charity competition is for Save Lives Ethiopia, which is an African-based group that sponsors and supports orphans.

“But they also do more, like sponsor their lives and get them an education,” said Tanisha Suzuki, who is co-organizing the fundraiser. “They sponsor them through a local university.”

She said the chances of finding a job after their education is high because the nation has one of the fastest-growing economies.

Saves Lives Ethiopia also sponsors AIDS research.

Suzuki became familiar with the group after attending workshops in Ethiopia from a program offered through the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, where she studies business administration.

“When I was in Ethiopia, our group went and saw them for the day and supplied them with lunch and hung out with them,” she explained. “This lead to the one-day soccer tournament because they affected us so much in one day and we wanted to see what Merritt can do in one day.

“Soccer was one thing that, no matter what the language barriers were, no matter how many different issues there were, when they were playing soccer, they were just so happy.”

She said the group was extremely welcoming, letting everyone play.

“It didn’t matter if you were a boy or girl, or how old you were, they just really wanted everyone to play,” she explained.

Suzuki has been playing soccer since she was a child, and she continues to play in the Merritt drop-in league.

Four teams are registered for the tournament, with various numbers of people. Up to 11 people are welcome on a team.

The tournament will include youth soccer nets and is played in half-field lengths.

Teams from out of town may also be joining.

A silent auction may be part of the events.

TJ Cheema is also helping to organize the tournament.

“We do need more people to join,” Cheema said, noting she’s always wanted to organize a fundraiser. “I had a high school basketball coach who would open up the gym and I thought of doing something like this, that people can become involved in, would be good for the community, because summer can be boring.”

People can join a Facebook page called A Chance at Change. Anyone 14 and up are welcome to join.

Participants can also register by emailing [email protected].

Organizers are also looking for referees and donations.