Bets were placed, challenges accepted and spirits were high as celebrities laced up alongside regular-joe athletes to raise money for a youth centre in northern Uganda.

Big names like actor Michael Cera and Weezer lead singer Rivers Cuomo hit the pitch with sports enthusiasts from across the Greater Toronto Area at the Athletes for Africa soccer tournament, an intimate event that had fans and players rubbing shoulders in the Saturday sun at Cherry Beach.

“I think it’s an easy thing for me to do to help people out,” said Cera, of Juno and Superbad fame.

Having donned blinding red short shorts, Cera said he was playing his first game in more than 10 years.

“I wanted to come because I’m afraid of soccer and I wanted to face my fear,” Cera deadpanned.

After holding his own for most of the game, the young actor said his biggest achievement was successfully passing the ball.

“I really expected to lose. That’s what I’m used to,” he said after his team tied a game.
Other celebrities, however, weren’t as modest.

“I’m trying to raise money and also trying to score. Those are my two goals,” said a sweaty Murray Foster from folk-rock group Great Big Sea.

Foster played a few games, managing to stop two goals, before heading to the Molson Amphitheatre for a performance Saturday evening.

“I’m exhausted. The show will be awful,” said Foster, grinning widely.

The first event of its kind, the tournament had already raised more than $30,000 through online team pledges before the games began.

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