Around 200 people braved the cold weather and rain on Sunday to honor Binghamton University student Joao Souza with a memorial soccer penalty shot tournament at the East Gym Field.
Last year, Souza was fatally stabbed in his dorm room on the ground floor of Windham Hall of Mountainview College. Souza, originally from Brazil, was a freshman majoring in engineering and a member of the Zeta Psi fraternity.
The event, organized by Zeta Psi, raised funds to pay for a memorial soccer game in Souza’s honor in his hometown in Brazil. According to the fraternity, funds will also be donated to children in Brazil who aspire to play soccer but cannot afford equipment.
Zeta Psi has currently raised more than $4,000 for Associação Esporte e Vida, a nonprofit organization in Brazil that brings soccer equipment from the United States to Brazil.
Jonny Schulman, a member of Zeta Psi and a sophomore majoring in psychology, spoke to the crowd about Souza before the event began.
“I met Joao the first night of college our freshman year, and although I only knew him for what some may consider not a very long amount of time in the grand scheme of things, it felt like I knew him for a lifetime,” Schulman said. “He put my life on a completely different course that would be way better than my life would be without him.”
Schulman also said Souza spread positivity everywhere he went and was a model human who lived a life worth celebrating. Alessio Campos, founder and president of Associação Esporte e Vida, said he met Souza through Souza’s father, Alex, in 2012. According to Campos, Souza’s father would send him videos of Souza playing soccer and the group would discuss the sport.
“That kid was amazing,” Campos said. “This kid can be a professional soccer player if he wants to — he will be. I always told Alex to [get] his son to play more and then he entered high school and played at a high level.”
According to Campos, Brazil has inadequate children’s soccer teams and soccer can be life-changing for children there, so he created his organization to help.
“Joao’s father told me you guys were doing something very nice to help and I asked him to help me,” Campos said. “I helped 500 kids in Brazil, and with your kindness, we are going to do a lot of stuff for the kids.”
After Campos’ introduction, the penalty shoot-out began, with two teams taking turns for their chance at the goal. Each team member, dressed in memorial shirts honoring Souza, took two shots at the goal in hopes of getting their ball past the goalkeeper. Organizers raised money by selling tickets to the tournament, shirts in Souza’s honor and snacks. They also set up a GoFundMe.
Jasmin Randhawa, a sophomore majoring in business administration and a member of Delta Phi Epsilon sorority, said she decided to participate to support the cause. Randhawa was on a team with her sorority sisters and she spent time warming up with her group before taking their shots.
“I’m here to support my brothers,” Randhawa said. “It’s a great cause and Joao loved soccer.”
Cat Bouadze, a sophomore majoring in economics, said she attended the event to honor Souza.
“I knew him in high school,” Bouadze said. “I wanted to come support the cause.”