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Soccer teams play to honor slain teammate, game raises money

By Andrea Olson, KECI Reporter, aolson@keci.com
Published On: May 04 2014 10:35:26 PM MDT
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Prosecutors claim a 17-year-old German exchange student, Diren Dede walked into a neighbor's Grant Creek garage through an open door early last Sunday. The homeowner, 29-year old Markus Kaarma, is accused of setting a trap and then shooting into a darkened garage. Investigators say Kaarma fired four shots and two hit Dede, killing him. 

On Sunday, soccer teams came together in Missoula to honor Dede and play the sport that he loved.

The Missoula Strikers soccer team told NBC Montana, the last week has been difficult but that didn't stop them from taking to the field to honor their teammate.

"Diren loved this sport and I think that's the best thing for us to do is to just keep playing," said Missoula soccer player and friend of Dede’s, Chaucer Larson.

The Strikers played a team from Coeur d’Alene on the Sentinel High School soccer fields. The loss of Dede hasn't been easy.

"I think it's been tough on a number of people in different ways," said Chaucer.

Players and coaches agreed that Sunday morning’s game wasn't about winning but about their fellow teammate.

"You may think about that every time you play soccer for the rest of your life. You may forget tomorrow and get distracted, but it's recognizing the emotion of it and sadness of it. You know, sadness is a gift from God and to deal with life. You know, it's not all about being happy,” said Jeoffrey Birnbaum, the Head Coach of the boys U-18 Strikers soccer team.

A donation jar and pictures were set up near the sidelines as the team worked to raise money for Dede's family.

Despite the loss, Dede lives in the game of soccer and will always be remembered on and off the field.

"He was a nice guy, he made me laugh a lot and he was a big, strong kid and he wasn't afraid to go into any challenges and he was fun to play with," said Chaucer.

"I really do appreciate people coming out and honoring Diren and it's great for us to have that crowd. I think it helped a lot," said Birnbaum.

NBC Montana found out the team raised just over 53 hundred dollars during Sunday’s soccer game.

That money will help pay for travel and funeral expenses for Dede's family. NBC Montana also found out that another soccer benefit in Germany last Wednesday raised over 25 thousand Euros which is close to 35 thousand U.S. dollars.