WESTBROOK, Maine — The Westbrook Soccer League is gearing up to host its inaugural Presumpscot Open, a 5 v. 5 street soccer tournament that will take place at the Cornelia Warren Four Season Rink in Westbrook June 21-23.
“Our high school program played street soccer at the facility once a week last summer, and the guys loved it,” Westbrook Soccer League president and Westbrook High School’s boys’ varsity soccer coach John C.L. Morgan said yesterday. “We’re hoping this tournament will showcase the potential of the rink as a place where all soccer players in Westbrook can find a reliable game of pick-up.”
Morgan pointed out that the popularity of the rink is already growing with the city’s younger players, with the soccer league hosting free drop-in sessions on Monday evenings throughout the summer for all boys and girls in grades 3-8. “We’ve had only two sessions so far, but we’ve already gotten about fifteen players each time with little promotion,” said Morgan, who added that he expects the sessions to only become more popular due to the players’ enjoyment of the hands-off approach pick-up soccer offers. “There are concerns about youth sports being too structured and kids not playing outside anymore, so [the drop-in sessions] are our version of the good old days when kids played at the sandlot until the streetlights come on.”
Morgan also noted that the Westbrook soccer league’s promotion of pick-up street soccer dovetails with the U.S. Soccer Federation’s recent emphasis on youth players playing pick-up soccer, as evidenced by the youth futsal tournaments U.S. Soccer piloted in Philadelphia and Los Angeles earlier this spring. Futsal is a small-sided version of soccer long popular in Brazil in which players use a specially designed soccer ball that requires players to rely more on ball control and technical skill than just physical strength and brute force. “U.S. Soccer is hoping the growing popularity of futsal will help develop the next generation of skilled soccer players in the U.S., and [the Westbrook Soccer League] is hoping the Cornelia Warren rink will be an incubator for a successful high school program in the years to come,” Morgan said.
A Legacy Continues
It’s fitting that Morgan would refer to the Cornelia Warren Four Season Rink as a place where young soccer players’ talents could blossom, as it was another project funded by the Cornelia Warren foundation that was once credited for the success of a different athletic program in Westbrook. “Cumberland Hall, a basketball gym that was built in the Warren Block in the early 1900s, is often called the cradle of our successful basketball program dating back to the 1950s, 1960s, and the 1970s because of the thousands of hours Westbrook kids spent playing games at the gym,” Morgan points. “Our city owes so much to the Warren family for their contributions to the community over the years, so we’re happy to fulfill the promise of the rink.”
The rink, which was built in August 1994 as a result of a $35,000 contribution by the Cornelia Warren Community Foundation, hasn’t always been used to its full potential during the warmer months since it was built nearly twenty years ago. But Morgan sees the soccer league’s recent use of the facility as not only a way to make use of the gift given to the city almost twenty years, but also as a way to help in the city’s recent efforts to revitalize the nearby Presumpscot River as a recreational hub. “The name of our tournament’s a natural one, considering the rink’s proximity to the river. The tourney won’t feature kayaks or paddle boards, but maybe the winning teams will celebrate and cool off with a quick dip.”
Westbrook Soccer League President John C.L. Morgan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (207) 766-8554.