On 3rd September, Racing Peer’s sports facility was the venue for the national kick-off of a tournament for people with disabilities. The country’s biggest tournament of this kind is supported by the social commitment of Belgium’s 24 professional clubs under the label Pro League +. It was an honour for KAS Eupen to participate in the kick-off and to provide its mascot Eupi to whip up a fun atmosphere around the tournament grounds. Eupi distributed stickers, posed for photos, took fans in his arms and was one of the audience favourites at the kick-off for the 2017 tournament.
A total of 70 teams fielding mentally and physically handicapped players participated in the tournament, with two of these teams contesting their matches in the jerseys of KAS Eupen. They were even allowed to keep their KAS jerseys as a souvenir of the big day. Many of the games were supervised by referees from the Pro League, who made themselves available for this good cause. Prominent supporters of the kick-off included Hans Vanaken from FC Brügge (Bruges), Siebe Schrijvers from KRC Genk and Peter Maes, the new coach at KSC Lokeren. The kick-off has been held for 8 years now, and it is impossible to imagine this event in early September being removed from the schedule of the Belgian Football Association.
Two teams in the KAS Eupen jersey
Accompanied by team manager Michael Rademacher and marketing manager André Palm, Eupi hit the road to Peer in the province of Limburg early on Sunday morning. KAS Eupen’s luggage included two complete sets of jerseys for one youth and one adult team. One of the characteristics of the kick-off tournament is that some of the teams compete in the kit of the Belgian professional clubs. “It is always overwhelming to witness the enthusiasm we receive at the annual kick-off,” said KAS marketing manager André Palm upon his return from Peer. Eupi was certainly one of the favourites at the event. Our panda was hugged and cuddled, and his photo was ultimately saved on the smartphones of hundreds of happy players and tournament visitors.