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Shine the Light Soccer Tournament Sees a Brighter Future for Women and Girls

By Staff, 09/05/23, 3:45PM EDT


Play. Inspire. Unite.

Girls' soccer players challenge eachother for possession of the ball

Photo by David Ivan Rodenhiser

The third annual Shine the Light Soccer Tournament was held in London earlier this summer, bringing together hundreds of girls from across Ontario for competitive play - and a worthy cause.

Hosted by Whitecaps London FC, the Shine the Light Soccer Tournament is a grassroots initiative held in support of the London Abused Women’s Centre (LAWC).

The event is far more than just a soccer tournament; it serves as a platform to raise awareness about abuse and trafficking – issues the LAWC works tirelessly to combat. The tournament is also a great fundraising opportunity for the LAWC, with this year’s tournament racking up $6,000 for the organization.

Each participant received a distinctive pink whistle, a symbolic way of encouraging girls to find their own path in the world of soccer.

“The whistle was given to drive the focus and to keep girls involved in various areas of the Beautiful Game. Player, Coach, Referee and Safety all in one whistle,” said tournament co-chairs Traci Cummings & Abbi Lezizidis in an email recapping the event. “Every player became aware of the premise, message and meaning of Shine the Light Soccer Tournament.”

42 girls’ teams participated in the tournament, with some coming from places as far as Ottawa. The action unfolded at North London and Windermere soccer fields with U13, U14, U15, U17 and U21 squads on the pitch all weekend long. Event organizers collaborated with Rogers TV London to broadcast the U13 and U17 finals live. This partnership not only brought the excitement of the matches to a wider audience, but also featured candid discussions about the greater message and purpose behind the Shine the Light on Woman Abuse campaign.

A girls soccer team poses with a Shine the Light Tournament frame

Photo by Cam Vassallo

The first Shine the Light Soccer Tournament was held back in 2021. Over three years, the club has raised a total of $16,000 for LAWC through this event through registrations, food purchases, merchandise sales, and direct donations. As teams, families, and supporters filled hotels and restaurants throughout London, the event also had an estimated economic impact of $750,000 on the city.

Representatives from Whitecaps London FC present a $6,000 cheque outside of the London Abused Women's Centre

Photo by Cam Vassallo

The Shine the Light Soccer Tournament demonstrates the power of sports to transcend boundaries and raise awareness about critical social issues. Beyond the scoreboard, the tournament united players, coaches, referees, volunteers, and supporters in a shared mission to address abuse and trafficking.

“Trafficking and the abuse of women is happening [in] every community. It’s happening in rural Ontario much as it’s happening in larger centres,” said Lezizidis, who also serves as President of Whitecaps London FC.

“Literally a week after the tournament there was one of the largest cases exposed in London with over 35 teenage girls being trafficked,” he added. “We need to continue our awareness campaign on this serious issue that is quietly one of the loudest issues in the underground of so many communities.

To learn more about the work being done at the LAWC, visit

Soccer players on the pitch during the Shine the Light Tournament at sunset

Photo by David Ivan Rodenhiser