Zama makes Pilot Cup bright

Daily Pilot

If a bird's eye view photo could be taken of Costa Mesa next week, surely the portion near Costa Mesa High would stand out. Bright colors tend to grab your attention, and in the hypothetical photo, there would be 30 different shades and tones.

What's going on there?

If the photo moved in real motion, the colors would be darting back and forth, side to side, maybe even rounding in circles on the fields at Costa Mesa High and the Costa Mesa Farm Complex.

The event taking place there, Tuesday through Sunday, is the Daily Pilot Cup soccer tournament. And, perhaps the best way to notice the soccer extravaganza is taking place is by the bright-colored T-shirts the young players are wearing.

For the past decade, Costa Mesa resident Hosane Zama and his store, Zama Sports — 4 Soccer, have been providing those loud shirts for the tournament that's in its 11th year. This year there are 201 teams and close to 3,000 little footballers representing 30 elementary schools in the Newport-Mesa area.

The store also supplies the medals the players receive at the end of the tournament. The corner flags on the fields, some balls and other equipment also come from the Zama Sports store that's in Costa Mesa. The chalked lines on the fields come from Zama, too.

Of course, Zama and his company make some profit from the tournament, but it's not too significant, as it's only $5 for each shirt. That's the price for each child to enter the tournament. They keep the shirt, in most cases as a reminder of a special time spent playing soccer with their friends and classmates.

"It makes me feel good," Zama said of supplying the tournament with its signature apparel and other equipment. "It's a soccer tournament in Costa Mesa. It was natural for us to be involved. A big tournament like that, we definitely want to be a part of it."

In 1986, Zama launched his soccer business, which began humbly. Zama tends to use the words "grass roots" to describe the effort it took to keep it alive.

He started the business mainly because of his love of soccer.

A true fan of the sport, it's easy for him to see why soccer is commonly referred to as the beautiful game.

He stands firmly by the statement his company makes to customers in an advertisement introduction of Zama Sports.

"All our energy and resources have been dedicated to preaching the gospel of soccer."

Zama has watched with excitement throughout the past 24 years as the game has grown in the U.S. The nation is struggling economically, but Zama should have a smile on his face. It's not just because of the Pilot Cup, but more will be drawn to soccer because of the World Cup this year.

Zama tends to keep customers because they notice his passion and high respect for the game.

It also helps that Zama is friendly, as he refers to most people, as "my friend," or "bro."

Kirk McIntosh, the Pilot Cup tournament director, certainly saw Zama as a friendly face 10 years ago.

In addition, Pam Marziani, one of Zama's prized employees — "She's great," Zama says — calmed McIntosh, who was amid chaos when dealing with the team shirts.

"I can only compare it to how it was before we had them," McIntosh says. "It was a nightmare for me. I was placing the orders and collecting the money and people didn't pay. I had to pay out of my own pocket some times. I hooked up with Pam. It was a major relief to me."

Sue McIntosh, the tournament director's wife, is also grateful for Marziani's efforts. Sue McIntosh is one of many volunteers who help make sure the tournament runs smoothly, a tall task every year. She seeks Marziani for organization when it comes to Zama's products in the tournament.

"I love Pam," Sue McIntosh says. "I've watched Pam in that office. She knows everything that's going on … She's right on top of everything."

Zama and Marziani have also helped to provide equipment free for the children who can't afford their own. In the past, Zama has teamed with other local companies to make sure more kids can play in the tournament.

It all goes back to Zama's love for soccer. The charity is another part of what makes the game beautiful.

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