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Youth soccer tourney invades BG (04-28-12) PDF Print E-mail
Written by CHAYSE HELD Sentinel Sports Writer   
Saturday, 28 April 2012 08:09
Perrysburg's Brooklyn Pollock drives the ball past Glass City Soccer's Amy King during the BG Spring Soccer Challenge Friday. (Photos: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Bowling Green is getting a big dose of the beautiful game this weekend.
Over 350 teams will be descending on BG for the fourth annual Bowling Green Spring Soccer Challenge, hosted by BG's Valentis Athletica Soccer Club.
The tournament kicked-off Friday evening on the campus of BGSU.
Up to 4,500 players will be participating in the tournament, which features age divisions ranging from U-8 to the high school level, as well as coaches, parents, siblings and fans.
"We're lucky enough to be able to find fields for that many teams," said tournament director Arnold Zirkes. "We actually turned down over 50 teams … We could have been 400-plus."
An estimated total of 10,000-12,000 people will be in town for the tournament, which could bring in as much as $1,000,000 in extra revenue to the local economy.
Over 1,300 hotel rooms have been booked for the event, spanning from here in BG, to as far north as Sylvania and as far south as Findlay.
Glass City Soccer's Abby Hauck handles the ball while defended by Perrysburg's Allison Christopher.
"Last year was a big success," said Tanya Brehm, who coaches the Delaware Lady Knights. Her Columbus-area club is competing in the tournament for the second straight year.
"It's one of the few tournaments where you find U-8 level all the way up to high schools. That is a hard thing when looking at tournaments. A lot of them are split up, and this one offers that."
All of the soccer action will take place on the property of BGSU, mainly around Doyt Perry Stadium, providing teams and fans a chance to play in a centralized location instead of driving across town or to different communities.
"We've got parents that have multiple kids playing on multiple teams," Brehm said of the field locations. "For them, to be able to say, 'OK, we're all here. The fields are here.' It's a huge thing.
"Not many places will have tournaments like that. Usually they're separated across town. So that's a big thing for us."
The tournament will get going in full force today, and finish with the finals on Sunday. Friday evening local northwest Ohio teams got some games in to get the tourney started.
Along with the soccer, vending will be available near Perry Stadium. T-shirts, sweatshirts and novelties items such as jewelry, key chains and headbands will be available through the tournament's official vendor, Big Tease Co.
Food and drinks will also be available on-site through BGSU concessions.
"Hopefully it's providing a lot of fun and competition for the kids. But the big thing is the fun. That's what it's all about," said Jim Cline, who brought his Columbus-based Big Tease Co. to work the tournament. Cline, along with has family, has been working the BG Spring Soccer Challenge for multiple years.
Lake's Jallen Bell (left) hustles the ball past Anthony Wayne's Nolan Andersen (center) and Spencer Yu (right) during the BG Spring Soccer Challenge Friday.
"It's 100-percent family. There's nothing non-family here," Cline said. "Everything that goes on here is for the kids."
A "Fun Zone" will be set up on-site, weather-permitting, with an obstacle course, bouncy-house, and shooting games for fans and children. Cost is $7 for an all-day pass for the Fun Zone. Admission to the tournament is free.
The only thing that could put a damper on the weekend is the weather, according to Zirkes. Forecasts have listed the expected high today at 44 degrees with a 70-percent chance of precipitation.
Still, Zirkes believes the weekend will be a chance for the Bowling Green community to show what it has to offer visitors.
"It's going to be huge. We have a chance to really shine on our image," Zirkes said. "If everything works out, we can put a very positive light for their experience.
"I'm hoping to see that everything comes off with as little of a hitch as possible and that all those involved have an enjoyable time."

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