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BLOG: A soccer tournament like no other!

By James Shaw, 02/24/22, 12:45AM MST



The 7 Elite Academy International Tournament always has a story - whether it’s players travelling from across the world to take part or top-class officials talking charge of games.

We had all that this year of course, but something was different. The people. There was thousands of them - far more than ever before. They made it a tournament that we’ll never forget.

When you gather a record 270 teams in locations across Southern Utah and Nevada, there’s a lot of organising to do - and this year was no different.

Starting over a year ago, our Tournament Team worked flat out to create an event that would live long in the memory… and you know what? They’re already doing the same for 2023.

In our role as content gatherers, us media types travelled across the venues to capture the fun. Nobody - and I really mean nobody - was unhappy with the soccer. Well, we would say that… but it was true.

Of course, there was disappointment when teams lost and some teams weren’t happy to finish second, but that’s part of the game. 

So what were the highlights for us content gatherers?

At Sullivan Virgin River Soccer Park in Washington City - a truly spectacular venue - we had teams from seven different states across the United States playing games… and boy, did they contribute to the atmosphere!

The players who finished on the podium were delighted to receive medals from our Global Ambassador Stephen Warnock, while the parents from LA, Wyoming and beyond were more than happy to tell us about their trips. You’ll learn more about that in coming weeks.

And talking about Stephen Warnock, the former LFC and England star was inundated with requests for autographs and selfies. Even from Washington City Mayor Kress Stalheli! Kress visited the tournament at Little Valley and was hugely impressed with the range of teams taking part. He also invited Stephen to a rock climbing expedition!

Then there were the players from Liverpool, who joined their 7 Elite SABA team-mates for the competition. In fact, they’ve spent much of the last few months in the USA, learning about the culture and impressing college scouts.

Every now and again, a Liverpool voice would ring out amid the noise - often that was the sound of our official from the UK, who travelled to take charge of games and add even more international flavour to proceedings.

In Mesquite, the youngsters at our Pre-Academy Jamboree really stood out. They always do - at training and during games throughout the year, in fact. Nobody can avoid their infectious smiles! 

Then there were the parents, who added a colourful backdrop to every game. Not just the sights, but the sounds - especially when penalty shootouts were taking place! I lost count of how many times I would hear a collective shriek of cheers from across the venue as another game reached its spot kick climax. 

The merchandise was gobbled up by families almost as soon as it was put on sale, and the volunteers worked absolutely tirelessly to stage a truly brilliant event. Again, we would say that… but again, it’s true.

Oh, and the DJs. The DJs! In Washington City and Mesquite, they worked throughout the weekend to generate a carnival atmosphere that peaked during the meal ceremonies. They even danced with the players! You know what I’m going to say… but it’s true. Paul Sleem - I’ll never look at The Macarena the same day again!

So where do we go from here? Bigger. Better. More international teams. Each year, we set ourselves a target. Then we beat it. With movement across the world now far easier, we’ve got some exciting plans for 2023. 

Watch this space.