The Santa Monica Sister City Association is scheduled to present the “2008 Installation Luncheon and International Sister Cities’ Youth Soccer Benefit” at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 1st, in the Crystal Ballroom at Riviera Country Club, 1250 Capri Drive, Pacific Palisades.

The event will install the new officers and directors for 2008-2009 and preview the new sister city programs planned, including an International Youth Soccer Tournament between Santa Monica and its sister cities —Mazatl·n, Mexico; Hamm, Germany; Fujinomiya, Japan, and Cassino/ Sant’Elia, Italy.

Though the Santa Monica Sister City Association was founded as a nonprofit organization in 1989, the Santa Monica City Council formed a Sister City Committee to create a relationship with Mazatl·n much earlier, in 1961.

Hamm became the next sister city in 1969, and the third sister city was Fujinomiya, Japan in 1975.

In 2006 the sister city relationship was formed with Sant’ Elia/Cassino. The city is expected to send a delegation to Santa Monica in the fall to make the relationship official.

Developing international friendships is the key facet of the Sister City Program, fulfilling former President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s dream of “citizen diplomats” by establishing direct people-to-people contacts between countries, educating young people in the cultural, academic and family life of other countries, and creating better understanding and mutual respect through exchanges, according to the association.

To enhance its program in a new dimension, the Santa Monica Sister City Association is working on the “International Sister Cities’ Youth Soccer Tournament 2009,” with plans to bring the youth soccer teams from all the sister cities to Santa Monica to play in a friendship tournament.

The mission of the tournament is to allow youths to understand other people and their customs through the universal medium of sports and games.

Information, (310) 434-3403, (310) 393-0701 ext. 16, or www .santamonicasistercity.org/.

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