A soccer tournament with a 14-year history in the community is taking on a new identity this year.
The Panhellenic Soccer Tournament hit the pitch for the first time in 1998. The three-day soccer bonanza built a solid reputation over the years, drawing as many as 100 teams from across the province three years ago. However, following the amalgamation of local soccer leagues into the all-encompassing Greater Sudbury Impact Soccer Club, the tournament also required a name change.
So, from July 27 to 29, the city will play host to the first annual Greater Sudbury Impact Soccer Tournament, maintaining the familiar features of the old competition, with a couple new twists.
Fabio Belli has been involved with the tournament from the very start. When Panhellenic executives were running out of steam for last year's tournament, he decided to pick up the reins and continue the annual event under the new moniker.
"This is something that is very important to our community ... and it's something we can't lose," the tournament's chair said. "With some of my colleagues from the previous board, we decided we'd join the club and start the tournament and see what would happen from there."
To keep things fresh, Belli said there are a couple changes to the tournament's traditional format, adding mini soccer for the players under eight years old, and divisions for the U-9 and U-10 boys and girls. In fact, 20 of the 68 teams entered in the tournament have entered in those age groups, he said.
Belli emphasized that the tournament would not be what it is now without the dedication and hard work of the Panhellenic executive.
"I'm so excited for (this tournament), for the opportunities our community will have, the friendships that will be made," Belli said.
Bruce Lindsay, secretary of the Greater Sudbury Impact Soccer Club, explained the purpose for the one-club youth competitive soccer system in Sudbury was to streamline the development of the players and the game itself.
"Up until just a couple of years ago, the Sudbury soccer scene was very fractured," he said. "We had many different clubs competing for the opportunity to develop players to compete in soccer in Sudbury and throughout Ontario as well.
"Unfortunately, that brought a lot of animosity to the sport in Sudbury."
In fact, Impact brought together seven former groups of boys and girls rep teams, including Panhellenic.
"Now, we see a focus on the development and the youth are being brought together and given an opportunity to play at many different levels," Lindsay said. "We're all working together toward the same goal of ... long-term player development.
"At the end of the day, you have some fun, you get to hoist a couple trophies in your soccer career and you get to enjoy the game for what it's worth."
The inaugural Impact tournament will kick off with registrations on Friday and games starting Saturday at the James Jerome and Howard Armstrong sports complexes and at Lasalle Secondary School. For a full schedule of games, visit www.gssc.ca.
Posted by Laurel Myers