Earlier this spring, we approached Advocate Editor-in-Chief Andrew Macklin about having an article written about the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations AAAA Boys’ Soccer championships in Brantford. Andrew told us that it would be tough to include a story about another sports tournament that, unless you have a direct tie to the players or coaches involved, you would have no reason to care about it.
From an organizer’s standpoint, that’s a tough pill to swallow. Our team has worked tirelessly to prepare to host the tournament, but to even earn the right to host the provincial championship. Brantford has never hosted this tournament, so there is no established track record of previous success. And the tournament features schools with student populations of 1400+.
With a growing soccer community that is producing an increasing number of high caliber teams and athletes, we wanted to bring this tournament to Brantford to showcase the best of the best in high school soccer. As coaches we put in our bid for this tournament three years ago, and last year were granted the right to host the 2012 tournament. Let organizational work begin!
The tournament has a potentially huge impact on our soccer community as our athletes have a chance to see the true scope of player development through our education system. There are several thousand players, coaches, and parents that are actively involved in the Brantford and Brant soccer communities. This tournament gives our soccer players the chance to see high quality players in action without leaving the community. Some of those players will go on to star for Canadian and American college and university programs, and graduate to teams like the Brantford Galaxy of the Canadian Soccer League. We want to show our athletes what they can shoot for as they continue to develop their athletic careers.
The tournament will also be a great benefit to the local business community. 16 teams – players, coaches, and parents – will bring around 500 new customers to our local businesses. That means thousands of extra dollars for local businesses that would not see those revenues if the tournament was not brought to the community. Some of those businesses have already stepped up to help provide sponsorship of some of our events to help offset the cost of many of the activities that we are providing as part of the Brantford tournament experience.
One of the mandates of OFSAA is to have active teacher and student participation in the hosting of each provincial championship. Several members of our staff when asked to be part of the committee asked how they could help, and since day one have been involved with all aspects of organizing this tournament. We are also excited for the opportunity to get some of our own students involved with this tournament. 40 students from Mr. Lynch’s leadership class will help to run the game day operations, banquet, and have been involved extensively in pre-tournament planning. Hands-on experiences that can help these students know the intricacies of planning and hosting large events, a skill that is now valuable in many industries. Also, Mr. Mercante and Mrs. Svec’s Hospitality classes will be preparing and serving the meal for all players, coaches, and guests at the tournament banquet being hosted by St. John’s. Once again, students getting experience with a skill that could be valuable to their own professional development. And he may not be a soccer dad, but no banquet experience for kids in our community would be complete without the attendance of Walter Gretzky, who has graciously offered to spend that evening with us.
Lastly, one of the best parts of offering this caliber of sporting event in the community is that the games are free of charge. There is no cost to see any of the 16 teams in action at any time. However, we are hoping to give a little something back as part of our championship on Saturday. That day, we will be asking for your help in supporting our local food bank, accepting cash and food donations at the gate. So why should you, someone who isn’t involved with soccer, care about this tournament. It’s because of the development opportunities that an experience like this provides for so many in our community. Our young soccer players get to see the stars of tomorrow in action, showing them what they can achieve as they continue to play the game. Our businesses develop relationships with new customers who are visiting this community, possibly for the first time. And our students develop their skill set as they get hands-on experience helping to run an event of this size.
We hope to see you June 7-9 at John Wright and Lion’s Park soccer fields in Brantford when the best high school boys’ soccer teams come to Brantford. For more information on the tournament, visit www.ofsaa.on.ca.
OFSSA 2012 SOCCER ORGANIZING COMMITTEE
PETER POMPONIO- CO CHAIR
CARMINE ROMANO- CO CHAIR
PAT SCHEWCHUK- TCO