The 7 Elite Academy International Tournament will be a “mind-blowing” event for the Utah youth soccer community – that’s the message from academy President Anthony Godfrey.
A record 200 teams have registered for the prestigious competition, which takes place in Saint George and Washington City from February 4th to 6th.
Organisers closed registration two weeks early after teams rushed to join the event, which caters for players in the 2002 to 2012 brackets, alongside a Pre-Academy Jamboree for the 2013 to 2016 brackets.
And with Covid-19 restrictions having affected other tournaments across the region, Godfrey is encouraged to see so many teams make a return to competitive soccer in Utah.
He said: “The biggest thing in all of this is that we’re facilitating the game in Utah. The players and the coaches at every team in this tournament are so passionate about soccer and they love the game.
“The fact that this tournament can put on so many games in the way that it can is something that we all have to be really grateful for.
“Many tournaments locally in Utah and surrounding states have been massively affected and many good tournaments have been cancelled, so the fact that we’re up and running is mind-blowing.
“It is going to be a great event for so many people, from the players to their parents, their coaches and everyone else involved.”
Covid-19 restrictions meant the decision was taken early on to move all games to Southern Utah, a change made possible with support from local authorities in Saint George and Washington City.
“The registration numbers have been huge and I can’t wait to see what everything looks like when it starts,” Anthony added.
“The tournament operations team has gone through many challenges with facilities closing down because of Covid-19, so they’ve gone above and beyond in organizing everything.
“With the help of authorities in Saint George and Washington City, and the youth soccer community in Utah, our team secured facilities that are good enough for the standards of this tournament.”
This year’s tournament will be held in a Covid-secure environment, featuring professional officials and penalty shoot-outs at the end of games.
The operations team at 7 Elite Academy has spent a year preparing for this year’s tournament, following the overwhelming success of the 2020 event, when 147 teams took part in Saint George and Mesquite.
Anthony paid tribute to the staff who have worked to make the 2021 7 Elite Academy International Tournament another record-breaking competition.
He said: “It is unbelievable that we’ve had a 35 per cent rise in registrations, especially after what the world has gone through over the last year.
“It’s a huge credit to our back-end team for what they have done, the meetings and work that nobody sees but is so important.
“Nick Nield has done a brilliant job as Tournament Director, as have James and Dan in our US office. Also well done to our marketing team, who have showcased the tournament.
“It has been brilliant to see our team of staff across the world work so well.”