Silent auction items are just part of the draw at the annual Manchester Soccer Club Gala
Youth Soccer News: Manchester Soccer Club Gala Will Feature Signed Jerseys from RvP, Rooney and More
Cleats and shin guards will take a back seat to cocktails and conversation as parents and coaches gather for the eleventh annual Manchester Soccer Club Gala at the Bernardo Heights Country Club on Saturday, October 20. The event is both a fundraiser for the club’s scholarship program and an opportunity to relax and socialize away from the pitch.
Co-Director of Coaching Jeff Illingworth is an old hand at organizing these galas, having been involved with them at previous clubs before founding Manchester SC. “I used to be in show business for many years,” he explained, “so I have a bent toward doing that sort of thing. I suppose it goes with my nature.”
More than just an opportunity to exercise his entertainment side, Illingworth pointed out that the Gala has two important roles it fulfills. “One, it’s a fundraiser to help offset the club’s scholarships, of which we have many,” he said. “Second, it is a great opportunity for parents and coaches to really get to know each other besides just under the pressure and stress of game day.”
Each year the club holds a silent auction in conjunction with the Gala, and this one is no exception. As a part of the auction, teams prepare theme baskets for parents to bid on. In the past these have ranged from entertainment (A Night at the Movies) to sports (golf- or soccer-themed baskets) and food (last year included one called The Four Basic Food Groups: Steak, Seafood, dessert, and Beer).
Along with the gift baskets, parents, coaches and friends donate items and services for the auction. Previous Galas have included chiropractic sessions, beauty and hair treatments and even holiday homes. Each year Illingworth opens his home for a dinner for ten, with the winner getting to choose the menu.
“We are very grateful that people donate so many items and services for the silent auction,” said Illingworth. “There is an amazing array of gifts that people donate, and I think it is very kind of them to go out of their way to help.”
The big draws this year will once again be signed and authenticated jerseys from top players. Last year featured Wayne Rooney, Ronaldinho and Chicharito, and this year will include another shirt from Rooney as well as one from new Manchester United teammate Robin van Persie. Also on the list are a jersey signed by the entire Manchester City team and one from 1970s Brazilian superstar Rivelino. Illingworth also indicated that there could be at least one from LA Galaxy star David Beckham.
|Manchester SC coach, FOX Soccer analyst and former England international Warren Barton (L) at the 2011 Manchester SC Gala
While the focus is on the club as a family, every family tends to have a few standouts. In addition to co-founders and Co-Directors of Coaching Illingworth and Billy Garton, Manchester SC is proud to have former England international and current FOX Soccer commentator Warren Barton among their coaches. The 2011 Gala also featured a talk by former San Diego Chargers kicker Rolf Benirschke, who is also a club parent. Illingworth mentioned that there could be a special guest this year as well, but is playing it close to the vest for now.
While these “names” may give the Gala some punch, it is the camaraderie that makes the event what it is. Illingworth hopes to see at least a few parents and coaches from each of the club’s teams, including those that regularly play in El Cajon, Lakeside and Santee. Above all, it is the opportunity for parents to meet coaches and parents they do not normally see on game days.
“We consider ourselves a family club,” Illingworth said. “If people have a question they can go directly to me or Billy as the directors and founders of the club. I think that it gives it a family feel, so that it’s not just about soccer. We’re a family club where we can socialize together. We have a Gala, we take trips to England and Brazil and we get kids to meet others culturally. The club offers more than just games. It’s more than just pay your money, play soccer and go home. We have many other activities going on, and I’m proud of our club.”
“We’re a big club now, but we still feel like a small club socially where people can still get together.”
For more information about the Manchester SC Gala, or to put in an early bid on any of the signed shirts, contact Darrell Johnson, Director of Operations, at 619-277-3535 or email@example.com. Illingworth pointed out that people do not have to be part of the club to bid on items.
Related Articles: Manchester SC on SoccerNation