The 7 Elite Academy International Tournament has smashed the 400 teams barrier as preparations continue for the fastest-growing youth soccer event in the region.
Thousands of players from the United Kingdom, Australia, Spain, Canada and United States will gather in Southern Utah and Nevada for the three-day tournament on February 1-3.
An extensive program of games, events and all-day food will entertain crowds in St George, Washington and Mesquite, including appearances from Premier League and England soccer stars.
Players and families will also have the opportunity to meet recruiters from leading colleges in the region, as well as the famous Steven Gerrard Academy from Liverpool.
Nick Nield, Tournament Director, is looking forward to an event that will continue to exceed expectations from players and families alike.
He said: “This tournament represents the pinnacle of youth soccer in Southern Utah and Nevada, both in terms of playing quality and experience for families.
“As a team, we’ve worked hard to make sure everyone who attends, from players to their families and coaches, has an experience that will live long in the memory. That is one of our key priorities.
“We always focus on providing the best opportunities, which is why we’re delighted to welcome even more college scouts and academy recruiters. They will be present throughout the tournament.
“This is the biggest event we’ve ever held and with a great team of staff on hand to make it happen, this is something that any youth soccer fan would want to see.
“The fact that we’ve attracted a record number of teams, with even more on the waiting list, shows the interest we continue to generate. This year represents the next step on our journey of expansion.”
The event has grown from under 90 teams in 2018, continually breaking attendance records every year since. The addition of more teams from out of state and Europe has helped to bolster that number.
The main venues include Little Valley Fields in St George, Sullivan Virgin River Soccer Park in Washington and Mesquite International Sports and Events Complex.
Anthony Godfrey, 7 Elite Academy Director, wants the international flavor of the event to leave a lasting legacy for all parts of the community in Utah and Nevada.
He said: “To have over 400 teams playing here is going to be phenomenal, especially with so many travelling from across the world. That is a huge thumbs-up for youth soccer in this region.
“It is essential we put on a good show and highlight the advantages of playing youth soccer in such a fantastic part of the world. We want these teams to come back year after year.
“By doing that we can drive so many economic benefits to the community in St George, Washington and Mesquite. Local hotels, shops and restaurants will be packed all weekend.
“The quality of soccer will be there for all the world to see. That will create more opportunities for players to gain college scholarships or even train with professional academies in Europe.”