© John DeCoste
Valley District Soccer Association executive director Dwight MacLeod is coordinating the Greenwood Auto Sales Valley classic soccer tournament. - John DeCoste, www.kingscountynews.ca
It’s all systems go for the first annual Greenwood Auto Sales Valley Classic soccer tournament, set for Aug. 15-17 on soccer fields throughout eastern Kings County.
“We’re trying to bring back one of our former major summer tournaments that ran in our area for years,” Valley District Soccer executive director and tournament co-ordinator Dwight MacLeod said.
For 26 years, the mid-August slot in the Valley summer soccer season was filled by the New Minas Invitational, which was cancelled in 2012.
With the Valley Kickoff and the Gunn Baldursson Memorial women’s tournament, it made up the final leg of the ‘big three’ major summer soccer tournaments in the area.
“We went two years without it,” MacLeod said of the New Minas tournament, and its absence “left a big hole” in the summer soccer schedule.
“We knew we couldn’t call it the New Minas Invitational, but we’ve always been more than willing to try and bring this tournament back, in some form,” he said.
Valley District Soccer ran the mini (eight and under) portion of the tournament in both 2012 and 2013, organized by VDSA staff.
“We decided to try and bring back the youth portion” earlier this year, said MacLeod.
MacLeod estimates he made around 250 calls to local businesses looking for a major corporate sponsor. “Greenwood Auto Sales was the only business willing to step up and serve as a lead sponsor.”
Other than that reluctance, however, “the local business community has, for the most part, been receptive to the idea,” he added.
“We’ve tried to stress that a tournament like this, held over three days in August, can have a tremendous economic impact on our area. It always did,” during the New Minas Invitational.
The Valley Kickoff, held annually in mid-June, remains a strong, viable event, he added, while MacLeod said Eric Cederberg at Acadia helped strengthen the Baldursson tournament this year. The hope is that the Valley Classic can take its place along with the other two.
He pointed out that many of the organizers of the New Minas Invitational had had enough when they chose to discontinue that event.
“It will likely take a year or two to get it back to where it was,” he said. For now, “we’re offering a $275 entrance fee to try and get the interest back.”
While the tournament, as it grows, may end up being a moneymaker someday, for now, VDSA is not doing it as a fundraiser.
“That’s not the intention. Should money be realized as a result, it will be channelled back into grass roots soccer in the Valley,” MacLeod said.
Over 100 teams have already registered for the tournament, including teams from New Brunswick and throughout Nova Scotia.
“If it’s a success this year, we can likely anticipate having 150 teams next year,” MacLeod said.
In its heyday, the New Minas Invitational regularly had more than 200 teams, although MacLeod feels that from his perspective, “anything more than 150 teams isn’t really manageable.”
The tournament will make use of fields from Wolfville to Kentville, Port Williams and Centreville.