This tourney’s a real kick | VailDaily.com

This tourney’s a real kick

M.G. Gallagher

Like the growth of the sport here itself, the Vail Valley Challenge Cup has grown into a large and popular youth soccer tournament. Teams come from around the state for this fun event that is open to Classic and Challenge level boys and girls teams from ages U10 through U14.Last year between 4,500 and 5,000 people came to Eagle County as part of the tournament – soccer moms and dads, players and the rest of the family, too. A large contingent of referees from out of town also came to help out.Get ready. They’ll be back Sept. 30 for the weekend en masse.It is a solid boost to the local economy after things have died down in early October. The estimated inflow of revenue into the area for the 2004 Challenge Cup was put at $1.5 million and more.Another positive is the atmosphere of the Challenge Cup. It has a history of an unusually positive tone. Where most tournaments in many sports, soccer included, tend to carry a lot of friction along with the pressure of competitive youth sports, the Challenge Cup has established that good sportsmanship and a good example are quite possible, and that’s that.It’s not just that it’s not a premiere level (the top category in Colorado competitive soccer) tournament. It is conveyed that way to the referees, the teams, and the parents. It’s really neat to see scores of happy soccer spectators instead of negativity.Combined with the scenery and usual mild weather at the beginning of October, it has made for a repeat favorite for many teams from Colorado. Not only does the tournament have local financial impact, it also has created a sound, long-term image in the minds of the many visitors who have participated.Cindy Eskwith, Vail Valley Soccer Club president, said, “We are happy to host this popular event that provides a boon the the local economy in the heart of the off-season.”My annual observation is that we’ve turned some people’s view of the valley around. Many of the tournament attendees had not otherwise been here before. As we all know, many have the view that we’re snobby up here. I heard many people comment otherwise. They really did say how friendly everyone one here was, and what a positive tournament. Marketers and such also understand the depth of an image. From an academic standpoint, and I poll these things, this tournament has left an exceptional image in the minds of a significant number of people. A lot of them are coming back this weekend. So get ready. It’s going to be busy for some area businesses. Even more important, let’s complement the very positive reputation of this excellent kids’ soccer tournament and be really nice to some really happy people. See you at the 2005 Vail Valley Challenge Cup. Vail, Colorado