Over 1,200 young soccer players and their families are coming to town this weekend (May 13 and 14) for a tournament modeled after the largest sporting event in the world as Campbell River hosts the Mini World Cup.
This is the 17th year for the tournament, which will see each of the over 100 teams of seven to 10 year-olds play at least four games over the two days at the Robron turf.
Allan Rimell, president of the Campbell River Youth Soccer Association (CRYSA) says the tournament is a big deal, not only for the fun the kids are sure to have, but also for the community.
“When you think about 1,200 kids, moms and dads, brothers and sisters, maybe grandma and grandpa, that’s a few thousand people here right through the weekend,” Rimell says. “Even just the $20 stop at McDonalds or whatever is maybe $50,000 or $60,000 into the community.”
Rose Klukas, economic development officer for the City of Campbell River, agrees that “local businesses can expect to be busy as kids and families roll into town for this event. In particular, we anticipate restaurants, hotels and motels could see a big bump in traffic.”
And Rimell is hoping locals will come out to support the event, even if they don’t have a kid playing in the tournament.
“When we were fighting for that new field, this is the kind of thing we were talking about. There were a lot of naysayers when we were trying to get that field built, but I think people will see its value if they come down this weekend.”
In particular, Rimell says people won’t want to miss the “show-stopper,” when, on Saturday at 11:45 a.m. the kids will participate in their very own Parade of Nations.
“Each team will represent a different country, and they’ll be wearing different coloured shirts representing their continent, and the kids will come down the path and out onto the field. They’re being encouraged to make their own flags and dress up like the people of their country,” Rimell says. “That’s going to be a thing to see, for sure.”
There will also be a salmon barbeque fundraiser for CRYSA from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and a “Fun Zone” set up in the lacrosse box with bouncy castles and face painting for the kids. Strathcona Gardens has also opened the pool for free public swimming from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. for participants of the Mini World Cup if they show up with their jersey on.
On Sunday, the CR Stikers boys rep team will be running the concession to fundraise for their upcoming trip to the provincial championships in Vernon.
“It’s just going to be a really, really good time, all weekend long,” Rimell says. “I hope people come down and check it out and show their support.”