KC Invitational soccer tournament is region’s biggest

Soccer-KC-Invitational

MAY 2015 – The Kansas City Invitational Soccer Tournament is one of the constants of youth soccer in Kansas City.  It is the season-ending tournament and the largest of the year.

This most popular of tourneys attracted a record number of teams last year from all across the region and organizers expect even more this year.

“Last year we had 350 teams,” said Heartland Soccer Association tournament director Dave Morrow.  “It is always one of the bigger tournaments we run.”

Held over the Memorial Day weekend, the tournament runs from May 22 through May 25, and many travelling players and coaches use the tournament as a chance to combine soccer and recreation, turning Kansas City into a soccer tourist destination.

“Teams come in from 14 states,” said Heartland Executive Director Shane Hackett.  “It becomes a destination vacation.  There are a lot of things to do in Overland Park with friends and family, a lot of places for them to go.  There was a study by a Kansas City economic development group that determined we’re bringing in a million dollars to the area over the weekend.”

Between players, coaches and family, each team will bring about 40 people into the area. Last year’s tournament fetched nearly 1,500 people.

“It’s become a little bit of a calendar event for teams from Dallas the last few years,” Morrow said.  “We get teams from all over. Of course we get most of our teams from Kansas and Missouri, but we get a lot of teams from Iowa and Nebraska, and some from Illinois, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Colorado and Texas.”

The event timing also makes the tourney a good year-end measuring stick for teams to find out where they stand as they wrap up their spring season.

“It’s the season finale for a lot of teams,” Morrow said. “Most teams have finished their league games. It’s the last event for most teams.”

Youth-soccerWith league seasons ending in May the Kansas City Invitational will have access to state of the art turf fields at the Overland Park Soccer Complex and at the newly opened, world class Swope Soccer Village.

“All the games will be on turf,” Hackett said. “It’ll be the first time both Swope and the OPSC are used for this holiday weekend and for the first time it’ll be played in both Missouri and Kansas.”

The tournament dates to 2002, beginning as an invitational tournament.

“KC Invitational is one of the oldest tournaments in KC,” Hackett said.  “In the beginning it was truly an invite for division one and elite teams.  As it has grown it has accommodated all levels.  Any kids can play.  We accommodate U8 to U19 at every skill level, even recreational.  The competitive levels have gold, silver and bronze groups.”

The large number of entrants at every skill level helps in grouping teams so that they have very similar competitive ability.

“We bracket teams of equal skill,” Hackett said.  “It leads to closer games and no blowouts.  They play against like competition.  We think that makes it more fun for the players.”

“Ultimately, the scheduler has to work a whole lot harder,” Morrow said.  “And it’s possible that we’ll have 400 teams.  But it helps that we’ll be done with league games so we will have fields available at Heritage Park, Swope and OPSC.”

The recently completed KC Champions Cup tournament attracted a record 390 teams to OPSC, Swope, and the Polo Grounds.

“We registered 450 teams,” Hackett said. “We had to turn away 60 teams. You hate to do that but we had to, to get all the games in.”

With the Memorial Day holiday providing an extra game day, there’s more opportunity to utilize more fields, and means more teams can participate.

“We’ll get over 400 for the KCI,” Hackett said, which would set a youth soccer regional tournament record.

Having the extra day also allows tournament planners to schedule larger breaks between games so travelling players and their families have a chance to take in some of Kansas City’s other destinations, turning the tournament into a family vacation.

“The games are more spread out for the holiday weekend,” Morrow explained. “Teams will play three games, guaranteed. Most will play two on Saturday and one on Sunday or one on Saturday and two on Sunday, so there’s a lot of in-between time.”

Local Kansas City teams will also play on Friday evening to kick off the tournament, and the top two teams in each age group and skill level will face off on Monday in a championship match.

For more information about Heartland Soccer Association or the Kansas City Invitational tournament visit HeartlandSoccer.net.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *