Calgary soccer tournament in murder victim’s memory brings together cultural groups

Published: August 1, 2014

Calgarians compete in Calgary’s Nation’s Cup in 2013. Submitted photo.

JEFF MACKINNON
CALGARY HERALD

Jessie Lail just wanted to do something to keep his friend’s memory alive. Organizing a soccer tournament was a no-brainer, as it was Davinder¬†Singh¬†Kajla’s favourite sport.

Eight years after six teams gathered for the first one, Lail and¬†Singh’s family are left to marvel at what the Calgary Nation’s Cup has become – a joyous, peaceful gathering that brings the many nationalities of the city together to mingle and show pride in their own heritage.

It’s become such a cultural phenomenon,” said Lail, who is also president of the Calgary United Soccer Association.

“Each team interacts with the others.

Team¬†India, Team Fiji, Team Chile – everyone knew one another (before) and knew of each other but never interacted. When you come to the field you’ll see how diverse everyone is, but at the same time everyone is Canadian.”

Calgary Nation’s Cup runs Friday through Sunday at Foothills Athletic Park and Broadview Park (Friday only). Opening games are at 6 p.m. Friday with China taking on Colombia and England facing Oromo. Canada meets defending¬†champion¬†Fiji at 7 p.m. Games run through the weekend to Sunday night’s final.

Teams are vying to hoist the Davinder¬†Singh¬†Kajla Memorial Trophy. Kajla was murdered in 2005 in a shooting that took place in Chinatown. He played soccer since the age of five, grew up to play for SAIT men’s team and was a member of the Calgary Callies of the Alberta Major Soccer League when he died. Kajla’s family help out as volunteers at the tournament and his sister Karen Kajla says participating in the weekend gives them some comfort.

It’s really¬†great¬†for my family and I because it gives us something¬†positive¬†to look forward to each year instead of it just being a sad topic,” she said. “It’s a really¬†nice¬†event for us to be part of.

The tournament began with six teams in 2005 and has grown to 20 in the open division, with the addition this year of four in the masters (35-plus) group. Returning teams this year includes past champions Fiji, Scotland and India along with new entries from Chile, Iraq, and Peru. Fiji beat Scotland 2-1 in the 2014 final led by former national teams players Petero Dauniseka and Viliame Toma.

Quarter-finals are Sunday starting at 9 a.m. followed by the semifinals at 3 p.m., the third-place game at 5:45 and the final at 7. The schedule can be found at cusa.ab.ca.

Along with all the flag waving, bagpipe playing and drum beating and overt signs of patriotism, there will be eating. Food trucks will be present at Foothills all weekend.

It’s a¬†great¬†atmosphere,” Fiji representative Binay Prakash said. “You’ve people from 20 countries getting together and everyone is there to have a¬†good¬†time. We’ve got a lot of support from our community and so does everyone else.

Lail said the tournament reflects his friend’s personality and approach to life.

He was very jovial and he had a zest for life you could say,” Lail said. “You can see through the picture we have on our website that he was a¬†funny¬†individual and laughed a lot.

That’s what I think the essence of this tournament is – to laugh a lot and have¬†fun¬†and enjoy one another. That’s what he did on a daily basis.

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