Martin (left) and Bill Gramatica make their livings in the NFL but still enjoy soccer and helping kids
Before he ever picked up an American football – before he made it to the NFL, earned a Pro Bowl berth or won a Super Bowl – the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Martin Gramatica was an outstanding youth soccer player in Argentina.
Though football is Gramatica's profession and his claim to fame, you could definitely call soccer his first love; at the very least, the two sports are 1A and 1B in his heart. The same is true for Martin's younger brother, Bill, a kicker for the Arizona Cardinals.
And if sports are the Gramatica's shared vocation, then helping children is their shared avocation. Both soccer and football have helped the Gramatica brothers reach out to hundreds of kids in need.
This spring, Martin and Bill Gramatica will use soccer to entertain and raise money for children in the Tampa and Phoenix areas. On March 13-14, the brothers will stage the First Annual Gramatica Family Foundation Superstar Soccer Weekend at the University of South Florida, Bill's alma mater. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Gramatica Family Foundation, whose mission it is to help children in the Tampa and Phoenix communities realize their full potential by supporting programs that protect, nurture and empower today's youth.
The centerpiece of the Superstar Soccer Weekend is a celebrity soccer game, which will be held on Sunday, March 14 at 3:00 p.m. at the USF soccer stadium. In addition to the Gramaticas, other Buccaneer players and NFL kickers, as well as professional soccer stars, entertainers and media personalities will play in the game. Tickets are $10 each and are available for purchase in person at the Sun Dome Box Office or by calling Ticketmaster at (813) 287-8844 or (727) 898-2100.
"We wanted to create a family-oriented event that the whole community could participate in and enjoy, " said Martin Gramatica.
Before the celebrity game finale, the jam-packed weekend will include a youth 3-on-3 soccer tournament, the Coca-Cola Fan Fest and a celebrity fundraiser.
The weekend's activities will begin at 8:00 a.m. Saturday, March 13 with the youth tournament, which will be able to accommodate up to 1,000 Bay area youth. For information on registering for the youth tournament, please visit the Gramatica brothers' official web site, www.kick7.com.
While the tournament is in action, visitors will also be able to enjoy the visiting Coca-Cola Fan Fest, which features interactive games, prizes, the Coca-Cola Road Jam, the WQYK Pirate Ship and celebrity appearances throughout the day. Admission to the Coca-Cola Fan Fest is free and open to the general public.
On the evening of the 13th, the Stars & Cigars Celebrity Fundraiser will start at 7:30 p.m. at the East Club Lounge of Raymond James Stadium. The event will include entertainment, a live and silent auction, and the opportunity for corporate sponsors and guests to mingle with participating celebrities.
One way or another, everybody will be able to get their kicks during the Gramatica Family Foundation Superstar Soccer Weekend.