Plainfield soccer team remembers teammate Haris Suleman

Friends held a special tribute Tuesday night for a teen pilot from Plainfield, who was killed in a crash with his father last month.

Soccer teammates of Haris Suleman honored him at their first home game of the season. His number 14 was everywhere - on teammates' cleats, on their shirts, on their wristbands and in their hearts.

The team is struggling with the loss.

"I'm definitely sad that I lost such a good friend and teammate," said Plainfield junior Ali Ahmed. “This entire season we're going to be playing extra hard for him."

Their mantra is to play and "Live Like Haris."

"They lost a friend. More than anything, that's what it is," said Plainfield soccer coach David Knueve. "This is an opportunity to remember their friend, honor his spirit and kind of come together as a community, to remember the good things about Haris."

Haris Suleman was the adventurous teenaged pilot who, with his father Babar, attempted to fly around the world in 30 days. Their plane went down just shy of that goal off the coast of American Samoa.

On Tuesday, Haris' teammates wore t-shirts with "14" and "Suleman" on the back, which they designed themselves. They sold more than 300 of the shirts, raising nearly $1,500 dollars for the charity Haris and his father were flying for - "Seeds of Learning" and "The Citizens Foundation."

That money will help build schools in Pakistan.

At the first home game for the Quakers, his team also held a special pre-game tribute.

"He was just a fun person to be around on the field. He was our captain," Ahmed said.

"Tonight is kind of a celebration of his memory," Knueve added.

Number 14 has been retired for the season by not only Plainfield, but also Cardinal Ritter, their opponent Tuesday night.

Ahmed delivered a message to the crowd through the loudspeaker, asking them to chase their dreams, just like Haris.

"That number 14 represents just a little more than a number, but a student, athlete, sibling and son," he said. "As we play the sport we love, I challenge you all to go and live like Haris."

Teammates released balloons at midfield in his honor and held a moment of silence to pray for his family. Then they got out there and did what they say Haris would want them to do - play on.

Their message and motivation served as an inspiration to Haris Suleman's family, who attended the game.

"I'm very proud of these kids. Obviously, they remind me very much of my younger brother," said Cyrus Suleman. "To see them commemorate my brother in such a way was truly touching and very thoughtful of them."

Cyrus Suleman said the team helped to preserve a legacy on and off the field of a young man teammates say they could feel out there - a friend they'll never forget.

Donate to the Suleman fund