While the U.S. Women's soccer team is fights for Gold down in Rio this week, soccer fans who chose not to make the trip to the southern hemisphere can still enjoy the thrill of a live major soccer event, thankfully just a little closer to home.
In collaboration with South Summit Soccer Club and Heber Valley, The Park City Soccer Club (PCSC) is hosting the Park City Extreme Cup Soccer Tournament, August 4 - 6. With 479 teams and more than 8,500 players ages 8 to 19 participating, this highly competitive youth tournament is one of the largest sanctioned youth soccer tournaments in the US. What makes this tournament so special, however, is not its size or its test of athletic skills, but rather the efforts put into environmental sustainability and building community.
It doesn't take a genius to realize events can be wasteful. Just think of the last time you left a sports venue; likely the ground was littered with plastic bottles, paper programs, and other pieces of trash. This is not what you'll find at the Extreme Cup, where, along with presenting a top notch youth soccer tournament, one of the main priorities is "going green" and setting the bar high for other events in Utah.
For the first time in its thirteen year history, there will be no bottled water for sale throughout the Extreme Cup venue. Instead, participants and spectators are encouraged to bring reusable water bottles (also available at the concession stands) which can be filled for free at various water stations. "We estimate the initiative will eliminate at least 9,000 plastic bottles from being sold at each venue this year," said Shelley Gillwald, tournament director. It's the perfect step to build on the success of the Extreme Cup app launch in 2015, a move that removed the need for over 1 million printed pages of maps and tournament programing. Park City Municipal's Economic Development Manager, Jason Glidden, praised PCSC for their efforts. "They forward thinking and are providing a fantastic example for what all event organizers should be doing to reduce their carbon footprint."
The sustainability model doesn't stop with the push for green, there's also a social aspect. A big part of the Park City Extreme Cup Soccer Tournament's success can be attributed to PCSC's parent volunteers. These aren't your average soccer moms. Entire families participate in numerous roles, from manning concession booths and doing field sweeps to venue coordination, the 4,000+ service hours put in by volunteers from Heber Valley, Kamas, and Park City is monumental and it's made for great economic success.
Businesses in both Summit and Wasatch Counties are well aware of the dollars the tournament is bringing to town. Tournament success is what allows the PCSC to raise funds and offer roughly $35,000 in soccer scholarships to local kids who otherwise would not be able to take part in club or competitive soccer. In fact, two of the club's foremost talents, Paco Jaurrieta (16) and George Pineda (14), will be training at US Youth Soccer's Region IV Olympic Development Training Camp in Moscow, Idaho, thanks to the scholarship funds.
Boys and girls teams from California, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana will be competing at venues around Park City, Heber, and Oakley as part of The Park City Extreme Cup Soccer Tournament. Who knows, maybe a few years from now we'll turn on our TVs and see one of these kids representing Park City and Utah at the Olympics.