Two young athletes vie for the ball at the Kick It 3v3 Midwest Championships at Gordon Moore Park in Alton last August. Kick It 3v3 soccer uses a small field with six players on the field at a time.
ALTON – There’s a different kind of youth soccer event poised to unfold at Moore Park this weekend.
Call it the Kick It 3v3 Super Regional, featuring teams from throughout the region. And that includes some local ones. The top finishers qualify for national competition at Orlando, Fla., in January.
“It’s something to take pride it and it’ll put Gordon Moore Park at the forefront for soccer aficionados,” said Brett Stawar, president of the Alton Regional Convention Visitors Bureau.
Competition starts Saturday morning and will continue through Sunday afternoon for boys and girls teams. Players age 6 and older are expected to participate. There’s an Open division for players 18 and older.
“We’ll have players of all sizes, ages and genders,” Stawar said. “It’s exciting to watch because you will see athletes playing their hearts out during the competition.”
Moore Park previously has welcomed the 3v3 event — having three players on each team — but it was in the form of a Midwest Regional. The Super Regional is the next step because it feeds directly into the nationals.
“I think it’s a good deal for the area,” said Matt Schrimpf, owner of Sports Academy in Glen Carbon. “We’ve gone to the closest one to us in the past and it’s nice to have it in Alton.”
Schrimpf has family members playing on three teams and he projects a dozen or so local ones competing at Moore Park.
“There will be teams from Chicago, Missouri and Indiana,” he said of the Midwest flavor. “You will see people who really follow 3v3 and chase it down.”
The event should be a boon economically, Stawar figures.
“Last year, we had 100 teams and the economic impact was about $400,000,” he said. “We had people staying at hotel rooms in the River Bend, Pontoon Beach, Edwardsville and North County of St. Louis.”
Stawar said the community’s effort in embracing the event and the quality fields at Moore Park make the Super Regional a natural for Alton.
“I think there are only two Super Regionals overall,” Stawar said. “It’s a very high level of play and a great event for kids to show their skills.”
Because the competition is strictly 3v3, multiple matches can be played on each field. Stawar foresees three of them going at the same time. New recreation direction Michael Haynes is coordinating the setup.
“We have a limited number of volunteers and the United (soccer) group is helping with the parking,” Stawar said. “Michael is excited about it.”
The event gives Alton the opportunity to show off one of its main attractions — the 700-acre Moore Park. It’ll also be home the American Senior Legion Great Lakes Regional in 2015-16. And the Illinois Amateur Softball Association Class C Co-Ed tournament sets up shop in the park next month.
“Everybody wants to see Gordon Moore Park continue to improve,” Stawar said of the 37-year-old facility. “It’s still a masterful park and this soccer tournament is a wonderful event to showcase it.”