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Canadian team scores at world cup for lawyers

Ninth place a national high for legal soccer community
|Written By Yamri Taddese

As the German and Argentine teams rest up after the World Cup final this weekend, so are lawyers across Canada who recently scored good results at the international world cup for lawyers.

Members of the English Canadian team placed ninth in the recent Mundiavocat world cup for lawyers tournament in Budapest

In the lawyers’ version of the World Cup, a Canadian team not only qualified but finished ninth place out of 32 teams that participated in Mundiavocat 2014 in Budapest from May 23 to June 1.

According to Mundiavocat, the tournament sees participation by more than 75 teams from five continents.

LaBarge Weinstein LLP lawyer Michael Sami has attended the last three tournaments as part of the team representing English-speaking Canada. “It’s a lot of fun. It’s a great group of guys and it’s a great opportunity to see lawyers from English-speaking Canada,” says the Ottawa lawyer.

“The soccer itself is fun but also the networking opportunity is great. And frankly, just being able to get away from work and visit cities to play games for two weeks is awesome.”

Sami says he has been playing soccer since he was four years old. He has also played for varsity teams.

Unlike the World Cup that just wrapped up in Brazil, the lawyers’ version lets countries have more than one team, which in Canada’s case meant Quebec sent a group of its own. The 2014 Mundiavocat saw the English-speaking Canadian group advance further than any Canadian team in the past.

Eight days of competition ensure five to seven games for each team from around the world. “The quality of the game is quite high,” says Sami.

Members of Maple Leaf Athletic FC shake hands with their competitors from Romania’s Lex Expert UNBR following the Canadian team’s 1-0 victory.

“It’s higher than most men’s leagues.”

This year, 18 players went to Budapest as part of the English-speaking Canadian team with most of them travelling from Vancouver.

It was the first lawyers’ world cup for Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP litigator Alec Milne. He says the tournament was good fun but also a great networking opportunity.

“I was happy to hear about this opportunity. . . . This is an exciting thing to do and a good way to blend your hobby into the professional context,” says Milne, who used his vacation time to attend the tournament.

“I was there with lawyers mostly from Vancouver and cities outside of Toronto so I got a little more out of it than most in terms of developing a national network,” he adds.

There’s also the potential to build a wider international network though social events at the tournament, the lawyers say.

Admission to the team happens mostly though word of mouth, says Sami, who notes it eliminates weaker players through informal tryout games. He notes he’s happy to hear from lawyers who want to join the team.

“Anyone who has played either on varsity- or premier-level soccer and is a lawyer, we’d definitely love to hear from them,” adds Sami, who had previously coached the team.

The next tournament is in two years. “Absolutely, I’ll go again,” says Sami. “I’ve been to the last three and I’ll go until my body breaks.”

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