WINTERSVILLE - The third-annual Riverview Soccer Spectacular, scheduled for Sept. 1-2 at the Jefferson County Youth Soccer Club complex near the Jefferson County Airpark, will be bigger and better, with more teams visiting the local area and competing.
During a press conference Thursday at the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, Dr. Himanshu Desai, event co-organizer, said he hopes to hit the magic number of 40 teams participating in this year's event.
"Yes, I think so," said Desai when asked if 40 teams would eventually end up competing. "We ran out of hotel rooms last time. We already have 20 teams that are coming. Our goal for 2012 is to attract 40 teams to our area and enjoy the wonderful soccer complex we have. As the tournament grows, we continue to create competitive divisions to meet the teams' needs."
The event drew 20 teams its inaugural year, and last year's tournament drew 30 teams. Desai said he believes the word is spreading that the tournament includes quality soccer competition, and that's what teams are looking for.
"We made a lot of progress last year," he said. "It was more competitive, and we had more divisions."
Desai said he believes the change from October to Labor Day weekend also will attract more participation this year.
"It fits better with the soccer calendar," he said, adding more teams would be free to attend the tournament. "I also believe we will have more hotel rooms here available. Last year we had to house some of the teams as far away as East Liverpool."
The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, the Steubenville Conventions and Visitors Bureau and Progress Alliance all are offering assistance, said Desai. The event is sanctioned by the U.S. Youth Soccer Association and the Ohio Youth Soccer Association North through the Jefferson Kiwanis Youth Soccer Club. The local club was formed in 1978 with a vision of bringing a youth soccer league to the area. This year, more than 900 athletes have participated, and the club has launched a program for handicapped athletes as well, said Desai. He added the club is working with local middle and high schools to create more opportunities for local youth soccer.
"The tournament is creating excitement, and the high school coaches are getting excited as well," he said, adding the league is attempting to create district-based teams for boys and girls' teams with soccer athletes from area schools.
"We are excited about the growth of soccer in this area," Desai continued. "We are working hard to make sure our 2012 event is successful and provides a showcase for youth soccer. I can't thank our sponsors enough for stepping forward to provide assistance."
Sponsors so far this year include IBEW Local 246, Trinity Health System, the YES Team, DPS Penn, the Target Shop and the Herald-Star and the Weirton Daily Times. Desai added the event is seeking a title sponsor.
For information, go online to www.jkysc.com.