A children’s version of World Cup soccer is coming to Qualicum Beach.
Oceanside Youth Soccer Society will hos the Mini World Cup at the Qualicum Beach Community Fields on May 4-5. It is an event held in the Upper Island soccer region from Ladysmith to Campbell River including Powell River every year. Clubs take turn staging it on a rotational basis and this year it’s OYSS.
The event is expected to feature approximately 1,200 budding young soccer players in the U8-U11 age groups. The teams will be coming from all over Vancouver Island, Powell River, the Gulf Islands, Lower Mainland and also across the province.
Each participating team will be assigned a country to represent. There will be a Parade of Nations, giving the young players an opportunity to dress up, learn about different cultures, and tons of fun doing it.
“It’s the biggest yearly sporting event on the Island,” said Dave Robinson, the vice-president of OYSS and lead organizer. “There’s no other tournament in any sport that compares in size to this one.”
Parksville Qualicum Beach and area will be well-represented at this tournament as OYSS will enter 18 teams.
The last time OYSS hosted this event was seven years ago.
Robinson it will be quite different this year as participation will be maximum capacity, which is a milestone in the tournament’s history.
“It wasn’t set up the same way we’re doing it now,” he said. “We actually sold out the registration for it, six weeks before the tournament starts. This tournament has never been sold out. No other club has been able to sell-out for the event. This is a first.”
Robinson gave full credit to the hard work done by the society’s officers and committee of volunteers in promoting the tournament.
“We were able to get the information out soon, put a lot of the elements in place and being able to share that information definitely spiked interests a lot sooner than typically happens in other tournaments,” said Robinson. “Some of us have been working on this since last August.”
Robinson said Parksville Qualicum Beach will reap the economic benefits of this tournament as another 1,500 attendees with family and spectators are expected to be part of the festivities.
Aside from 200 soccer games, there will be a parade, food vendors, kids fun zone with inflatables, laser tag and dunk tank.
As well, the tournament will also feature the only the professional soccer team on the Island, Pacific FC, who will have members out talking to young players on May 5.
“It’s a great event,” said Robinson, who went on to thank the massive support given by the many sponsors in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area and other assistance from the Town of Qualicum Beach, various groups and organizations.
Robinson said they’re always looking for volunteers and anyone wishing to help out can contact OYSS at firstname.lastname@example.org