Add about 1,200 soccer players to the tourists and fish that will be running like mad in early August on the Kenai Peninsula.
From Aug. 6 to 11, the Kenai Peninsula Soccer Club will host the Alaska State Cup, drawing teams from all over the state.
Mike Tilly, president of the KPSC, said 80 teams are expected at the tournament, which is for Under-12 teams up to Under-19 teams. With that many players, plus family members, coming to the peninsula for that length of time, Tilly said the tournament will have a large economic impact.
For the first time, the tournament will even have an off day, Aug. 10. Tilly said this will present visitors from around the state a chance to fish, hike, golf and shop while they are here. It also will give the players a day to rest.
This is the first time the KPSC will host the Alaska State Cup, the last of the five major tournaments that will be offered by the Alaska Youth Soccer Association this summer.
The KPSC, which is run by board of 11 volunteers, was formed in 1999 in order to give young soccer players from the central peninsula the chance to travel around the state and play competitively. The club now has about 180 to 200 players each summer. KPSC compliments the Boys and Girls Club recreational program, which had 815 players last year.
In August 2004, the KPSC Under-13 Riverhawks became the first team from the club to win an Alaska State Cup championship.
“Teams from our club have earned respect around the state,” said Charles Woodcock, KPSC vice president and chairman of the Alaska State Cup Committee. “For us to be awarded this tournament shows how well respected we are.”
Tilly said the club needed to show it had enough housing space and field space to host the tournament. The club was able to show there were enough bed and breakfasts, RV parks and hotels in the area for the tournament. The tournament requires 11 fields, and KPSC was able to secure the right to use 14 fields around the area. Tilly said various principals at the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, and the Kenai Parks and Recreation Department were cooperative in making sure the tournament could take place.
Part of the deal is that KPSC members will spend the summer getting the fields in tip-top shape for the tournament.
“When people come to a tournament, the main impression they have is how green the grass is, how white the lines are and how nice the goals are,” Tilly said. “They want a nice green field to play soccer. We’re going to do what we can to give them that.”
In addition to getting the fields in shape, Woodcock also must round up 50 to 100 volunteers for the tournament and get enough referees. Woodcock said getting enough referees to the Kenai Peninsula in August should not be a problem. Referees from Oregon and Washington have been known to come to Alaska because of the unique draws of the Last Frontier.
“I think we’ll be able to pull it off,” Tilly said. “The nice thing about this community is that ventures like this tend to draw a ton of community support and a ton of business support.”
In order to volunteer, call Woodcock at 283-0236. Woodcock also said the KPSC still needs coaches for the upcoming season.
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