SANFORD, Maine – There is no shortage of soccer action when it comes to the annual Sanford Columbus Day Tournament being played this weekend in and around Sanford.
A total of 160 teams in 12 divisions (six boys and six girls) from parts of Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire have descended upon the town for 310 games to be played over the course of two-and-a-half days.
“It’s just a great tournament and it really pulls our community together,” said first-year Tournament Director Rebecca Simpson. “It’s grown immensely in my experience being involved for the last 10 years. It went from something very small with maybe 1,000 people to now 4,000 to 5,000 people.”
As in every other year, the 27th edition of the event, hosted by the Sanford Soccer Club, is run entirely by volunteers doing what they can to make sure the tournament runs smoothly for the participants. At any given time there could be as many as 15 games being played, using 16 fields in the community. The hub of the activity is at Shaw’s Field, which is set up to accommodate nine games simultaneously.
Competition is the name of the game for older participants in the under 12, under 13 and under 14 boys and girls divisions. All teams are guaranteed three games with the top performing teams advancing into a playoff in search of medals Monday.
“It’s a well run tournament, the facilities are in good shape and the competition is at a good level for us,” said Rod Towne, coach of the Bangor Soccer Cub girls under 14 squad.
The fact that the event welcomes a full complement of teams from each club is one of the other appealing aspects of the tournament said Towne, who is also in his seventh year as the Bangor Soccer Club president.
“It’s also really is nice to get down and say ‘OK, I’ve got a long break and I’m going to watch my brother or my friends play,’” Towne, who registered all 13 of Bangor Soccer Club’s teams for the event, explained. “It becomes a real bonding experience for the club and it’s a chance for the kids to sharpen their skills for the coming playoff rounds in Soccer Maine.”
Action is a little less competitive in the under 9, under 10 and under 11 boys and girls divisions. All teams play four games and all players receive participation medals.
The Grasshopper Football Club sent a total of seven teams from their Metro Boston location, including a team in the girls under 9 division.
“This is the kid’s first time in this tournament and they have a fun time,” said Sarah Mitch, Coach of the Grasshopper girls under 9 squad after a Saturday morning victory over Windham. “It’s always fun to go away and play in a tournament and do the things that the bigger kids get to do.”
In the end, organizers and participants pray for good weather and enjoy the healthy competition. But having fun is the ultimate goal.
“It’s really fun but the hair is the best part,” said 13 year-old Cape Elizabeth Soccer Club member Sarah O’Connor, who, similar to many participants, continued a tradition by sporting a wild Technicolor hairdo.
To view schedules and scores from the tournament, visit sanford.gotsport.com/clubsite/?p=1298.