Indoor soccer event still a success

Monday, January 14, 2008
Brittney Hawk attempted to kick the ball to her Jackson Redhots teammates, Megan Abernathy, left, and Addie Beussink, and away from Sikeston Shield's Bryce Miller and Layne Robinson, behind him, in the under-8 co-ed division at the 14th annual Saint Francis Indoor Soccer Invitational on Sunday at the Show Me Center. The Redhots won the game 5-3. (Fred Lynch)

Indoor soccer is a rarity in Cape Girardeau with the exception of the annual Saint Francis Indoor Invitational. The tournament has been drawing players from a tri-state area for 14 years.

Teams from Missouri, Kentucky and Illinois start signing up in August for the tournament, which began in 1995. The idea came when the Show Me Center hosted a viewing of the 1994 World Cup -- hosted by the U.S. that year -- and saw a huge turnout for the event.

"We said we ought to capitalize on this and the U.S. soccer movement," said Show Me Center director David Ross, who "by default" has been the tournament director since it started.

Ross had experience in professional soccer and had been involved with both indoor and outdoor games.

The Show Me Center got Saint Francis Medical Center to sponsor the tournament and 32 teams to play in it the first year. In its larger years the tournament hosted more than 100 teams. This year 62 came to play.

Ross said some of the older players have been in the tournament since its inception and that this would be their last year to play because the cutoff age is 18.

"It's like their last hoorah," he said.

For the Rusty Trombones it was their first and last hoorah. The team of 11 boys from Cape Girardeau got airbrushed T-shirts and won first place in their division of 18-year-old boys.

The team had never played in the tournament, said John Sakarelos, one of the Rusty Trombone creators.

"Well, it was our senior year," he said, "and we're all pretty tight."

Some of the boys had played soccer for school, but all of them played this weekend for fun. They were headed to Buffalo Wild Wings with their trophies in hand to celebrate the victory Sunday afternoon.

The tournament used to spread from the Show Me Center to the Student Recreation Center and Houck Field House, but has consolidated into three "fields" at the Show Me Center.

Ross said next year they are hoping to make it a futsal tournament with four fields about the size of basketball courts. Futsal is a "different brand of soccer" that involves more elegant footwork, Ross said.

The Show Me Center staff is trying to build interest in the alternative soccer style that "is a great skill-developer" and "the only 'official form of indoor soccer' approved by FIFA," according to the United States Futsal Federation Web site.

Results from the tournament will be printed later in the Southeast Missourian.

charris@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 246

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