By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
The fields are dry, the competition is high and there’s plenty of footie to be found.
After last week’s successful Darrell Moore Memorial Classic, the Paul Cline Memorial Youth Sports Complex is in action once again as the West Virginia Soccer Association State Cup is being played this weekend.
“It’s been going great,” Cup chairman John Newton said. “The weather has cooperated. We’ve had no rain. We’ve had no real problems, no injuries that I’ve heard of. Things have been going great.”
More than 50 of the state’s top travel teams came to Beckley with more than bragging rights on the line.
“This is our most prestigious tournament,” Newton said. “The winners from here go to Rhode Island at the end of June to compete for the Region I championship, which covers 13 states. If they should win there, they go to the national championship.”
With an initial field of 63 teams, the competition was narrowed down to 50 in advance of the State Cup.
“Basically, teams have to play in a travel league and that qualified them as long as they play in some sort of travel league somewhere,” Newton said.
Bringing the State Cup is an important process of exposing the world’s most popular sport to the heart of the Appalachian region, West Virginia Soccer Association President Dave Laraba said.
“It’s important to Beckley,” Laraba said. “There were two Beckley based teams in the event this weekend. It’s always good to get the people exposed. I saw a lot of the little kids from the YMCA program out here today helping their parents be field marshals or other work. I know a bunch of them are going to the King’s Warriors game, so that’s good for kids to see what soccer can lead to for them.”
While the two Beckley-based squads lost Saturday 2-0 and 6-3, there will be 14 teams who will be crowned today. The first slate of games will begin at 9 a.m. this morning and will run through 3 p.m.
“The kids just love this,” Newton said. “It’s always a tournament atmosphere when you get this mean teams together in one place.”