The 2022 7 Elite Academy International Tournament received a resounding seal of approval from players, coaches and parents after thousands of youngsters from across the world fought for honors.
The popular competition attracted a record 270 teams to Southern Utah and Nevada - making it by far the fastest-growing youth tournament event in the region.
Players and officials from the United States and United Kingdom travelled to venues in Washington City and Mesquite, with brackets for youngsters from Pre-Academy through to Under-19.
Guest of honor was former Liverpool and England defender Stephen Warnock, who was on hand to dish out awards, meet fans and sign autographs.
Warnock, who is a Global Ambassador for 7 Elite Academy, said: “I was overwhelmed by the skill and depth of knowledge I saw this weekend. The standard of play was really exceptional.
“Washington City and Mesquite are absolutely beautiful venues for soccer and it is easy to see why this tournament is so popular. The weather was fantastic, which also helped.
“Not only that, the support from parents and coaches was so positive and gave the players a real lift. That sort of thing makes such a big difference to a young person’s performance.
“I can’t wait to come back next year and see the tournament get even bigger. It is an exciting time for 7 Elite Academy and I am absolutely delighted to be part of it.”
Several players from the United Kingdom joined their team-mates in 7 Elite Academy’s SABA 04 Boys team, including Jack Pearce. He said: “This tournament has been great.
“It is a great experience to do this and the standard of competition through was really high. It’s a good quality, so you have to adapt to it.
“All round it has been amazing.”
Jeremy Mejorado, Coach of Riverton Rampage 2008 Girls from Wyoming, said: “The girls won four games out of four, but it has been such a great competition for us with great referees.
“The fields have been great and overall it’s been good. We’re really looking forward to coming back next year to the great weather!”
Anna Rich, who plays for Fire FC 06 Girls from Southern Utah, added: “This tournament was great and had a really good atmosphere. I love coming here.
“The fields were beautiful. We played at Sullivan and Snow Canyon and the fields were great. I want to come back next year because the teams are very challenging and it’s really enjoyable.”
Connie Lazo, who travelled with West Covina in Los Angeles, said: “Our coaches picked this tournament in Utah and it has been very, very nice here.
“The drive here was beautiful and the people here are super nice. It’s a lovely tournament and very competitive, but we’re doing pretty well. We would want to come back.”
One of the hallmarks of the 7 Elite Academy International Tournament has been the officiating with referees from the United Kingdom and across the United States travelling to take charge of games.
Daniel Valencia, who referees in Southern California, said: “It’s been a great tournament. This is my first time in Utah, but it’s been a neat experience for me.
“The organization has been really great. The fields are good and there has been a high level of competition in every game. I officiated all over the United States and this has been a very nice experience.”