Decatur, Alabama recently hosted an international youth soccer tournament consisting of thousands of soccer players around the world.
Local news station WAFF 48 reports that the Open Cup, sponsored by the Alabama Youth Soccer Association (AYSA) and the United States Youth Soccer Association (USYSA), hosted more than 230 teams from 14 states as well as El Salvador, Bermuda, and Mexico for six days. The female teams played from April 10th to the 12th, and the boys played from April 17th to the 19th. The tournament mostly focused on players ages nine through 19, though this year the Open Cup added an exhibition and showcase component for college players.
Now in its fourth year, the Open Cup generated approximately $1.7 million for the local economy. Among other expenses, the competing teams reserved more than 3,000 hotel rooms for roughly 10 days.
The teams played in the Jack Allen Recreation Complex, one of the South’s largest soccer complexes. The complex consists of 11 normal fields and two championship-sized fields with up to 3,000 spectator seats.
The Open Cup hosted tournaments for Premier, Challenge, Classic, and Academy level players for both U9-U19 genders. In addition, the tournament added a special exhibition and showcase for six Division I college girls’ soccer teams. The teams competed against each other on the 11th. The schedule was drafted in a way to enable the college players to watch the younger tournament games when they were not playing. College coaches and scouts were also afforded time to recruit potential college players from the competitors.
One highlight of the boys competition was the U19 FESA team of El Salvador. FESA is considered one of the best teams from a Central American soccer academy, having won the Central American Academy Championship, the Menedy Cup, an astounding five times. Another academy team, the Monterrey Rayados of Mexico, also competed in the Open Cup.
All in all, international soccer tournaments for youth players, hosted in either the U.S. or abroad, provide a wonderful opportunity for aspiring soccer players to play the sport they love and see the world at the same time.
“Soccer players love to display their skill and creative ability,” says Craig McGinn, Director, Global Team Events. “When managed correctly domestic andamp; international tournaments provide a forum for players to enjoy healthy competition and test their development as athletes. When choosing a tournament coaches should take their time and do their homework. Selecting an appropriate level of play will ensure that every team benefits from the occasion.”
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