22 March 13
BAFTA Los Angeles took on the best and brightest the Industry had to offer in the LA Fest Soccer Tournament notching up three wins in a row.
Sony Picture Classics' Dylan Leiner brought his charity 5-a-side tournament to the Home Depot Center for the inaugural LAFEST.
Teams from 40 industry companies and organizations including WME, CAA, Anonymous Content, ICM, Paradigm, and Lionsgate as well as shows such as The Amazing Race and Survivor took to the fields in a charity event supporting The Mia Hamm Foundation.
Some teams stretched the definition of Intermediate Division standard with teams that included players ranging from clients who happen to be international soccer stars to enthusiastic studio chiefs, but BAFTA Los Angeles kicked off with the spirit that we have built over the years (and boy, were those years felt the end of the day).
BAFTA Los Angeles were ably represented by Marc Benardout, Chip Diggins, Sam Hunt, Ross King, Stuart Pollok, Dan Sapienza, Richard Shepherd, Julian Stone and Matthew Wiseman.
Some of the lads were looking to the Reality TV division with visions of tackling Bachelorettes and Survivors, but we were instead placed in a group with global sports powerhouses. Drawn against sporting giants from ESPN and Fox Soccer Channel, the lads got off to a winning start after dutifully lining up for kick-off and realizing they were the only team on the field so earned an instant 3-0 win against ESPN by default.
After a intrasquad warm-up game and a short break, the team regrouped to take on Fox Soccer Channel. BAFTA took up an early lead when Sapienza set up Stone, but FSC came roaring back with an equalizer. It was a tough battle, but a sweet Sapienza goal followed by a second from Stone put the result to bed. Brilliant goalkeeping by Hunt, stalwart defence from Shepherd, Wiseman, Benardout and King, and tireless industry up front from Diggins and Pollok, with Sapienza and Stone battling in midfield left the lads grinning at the final whistle.
The final group game against Shondaland (as in Shonda Rhimes) saw BAFTA start sluggishly and leak an early goal, but goals from Stone (2), Sapienza and Shepherd delivered a 4-2 victory and meant BAFTA Los Angeles won their group stage the maximum 9 points.
With the sun beating down and muscles starting to tighten up during the break, BAFTA were drawn against agency giant CAA. Despite some heroic efforts and a spirited display across the entire field, the lads succumbed to a youthful CAA side in the first knock-out stage.
The game ended what had been an excellent day of football and a great display of camaraderie with many friends and colleagues from the entertainment industry; a unique opportunity for the Hollywood community to put their projects on hold and forget about making deals, and unite for a day of soccer.
For details on the tournament, visit http://www.lafest.net/
Congratulations to our BAFTA Los Angeles Team for representing us so well!
More team photographs available at The Hollywood Reporter.