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Glenn Pursley, Published June 29 2013

Plenty of Canadian soccer teams participate in Tri-City tourney

FARGO – With more than 100 teams participating annually in the Tri-City Soccer Club tournament, finding a Canadian team is usually like finding a needle in a haystack.

But that isn’t the case this year.

According to tournament director Jason Carter, 20 Canadian teams made the trip down to the Fargo-Moorhead area this weekend to participate in the Tri-City tournament. That is 15 more Canadian teams than the tournament played host to last year.

“It’s great,” Carter said. “A lot of clubs will send a team to try it out, and I think the Canadian teams that have come down in the past have had good experiences and tell the other Canadian teams to come because they enjoy it.”

This is the first year the Tri-City Soccer Club has had an official tournament director. Carter’s new title allowed him to make numerous phone calls to different clubs and teams around the area to bring new competition into North Dakota.

Seeing the biggest jump in numbers at the lower levels, the majority of Canadian teams making their debut play in the Under-9 to Under-12 age groups.

“The youngest teams are the biggest influx teams, and I absolutely love it,” Carter said. “There are a lot of opportunities for kids to do different sports, but to have that outlet for soccer is great. The overall level of ability for kids at a younger age has grown significantly in just the past two years.”

Apart from the wide variety of competition, bigger tournaments allow multiple flights for the same class to better match players based on their abilities and to provide a more fun tournament experience.

Although the work Carter put in played a big role in bringing new teams to the tournament, the numbers just wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for a change in Canadian club policy.

“With the long-term player development program, we don’t limit the number of teams in our club anymore,” said Les Campbell, who coaches a Bonivital SC U9 girls team. “More teams will come out now for sure because every club is putting more teams out there.”

Bonivital is from Winnipeg and has a strong soccer background.

The previous policy stated that a club may only have three teams for each age group, with a maximum 14 players on each roster. It’s changed so that each club can produce as many teams as it would like, but the maximum players each team can have is reduced to 10.

Campbell has coached in the Tri-City tournament twice before. Having seen the benefits of making a trip to the F-M area, Campbell does his part to spread the word with hopes that other Canadian clubs will decide to make the four-hour drive.

“Our club knows this is a good tournament to come to, so they’re always promoting it,” Campbell said. “We know it’s good competition, and as a coach for boys and girls, I’ve been down here enough to see that it’s good for them.”

Forum reporter Glenn Pursley can be reached at (701) 241-5549