TAMPA, Fla. - United Soccer Leagues announced the 2009 USL SoccerFest will be held November 19-24 in Tampa, the home of the organization’s headquarters, in conjunction with the Tampa Bay Sports Commission. The USL SoccerFest, launched in the fall of 2005, is comprised of the USL Annual General Meeting, the Super Y-League’s 11th Annual North American Finals, and the Five-A-Side Frenzy.
The 2009 USL SoccerFest is expected to draw 10,000-plus participants, family members, and spectators from across the US and Canada for the events. Visitors are anticipated to occupy more than 8,000 hotel room nights, utilize over 800 rental cars and vans, account for over 4,000 flights, and consume over 75,000 meals.
The 2008 USL SoccerFest was a tremendous success. The SYL North American Finals featured an interactive Players’ Village that was home to a fully functional Sprinturf field, which was one of the main fields for the second edition of the local Five-A-Side Frenzy tournament. A FIFA 2008 video game tournament rounded out the exciting events housed in the Players’ Village.
In addition to this free, interactive area for local players and their families, USL’s small-sided tournament was a hit among participants. The Five-A-Side Frenzy featured teams with players of all ages and skill levels, most of which came from the greater Tampa Bay area. The 2009 Five-A-Side Frenzy is slated for November 21-22. USL also hosted a coaching symposium in 2008 allowing local coaches the opportunity to further educate themselves about best practices to use when developing their youth players. Both the Frenzy and the coaching symposium will be an important part of the 2009 SoccerFest.
New in 2008 was a special exhibition series with three teams, including two Tampa sides, from the United States Power Soccer Association’s competitive Division 1 at the Ed Radice Sports Complex. Power Soccer is the fastest growing sport for power wheelchair users. Power Soccer is the first competitive team sport designed and developed specifically for power wheelchair users. The exhibitions were held in the USL SoccerFest’s Street Soccer field at the Players’ Village between the Tampa Bay Thunder, Tampa Crossfire and Atlanta Synergy. USPSA President Dominic Russo was on hand and also delivered a seminar about Power Soccer at the USL Annual General Meeting to the senior franchises, among whom the Hampton Roads Piranhas organization has been a staunch supporter of their local USPSA teams
“The 2008 USL SoccerFest was extremely successful on a number of different fronts,” said USL Senior Director of Commercial Development James Ward. “In 2009 we are looking at ways to bring the event to an entirely new level by building on the elements that integrate local organizations and businesses throughout the community into the SoccerFest. Our goal is to make this soccer celebration an event in which the entire area can become involved.”
The USL Annual General Meeting will be held at the host hotel, the Hyatt Regency Tampa. The USL AGM will draw hundreds of key figures from USL’s First and Second Division tiers of professional soccer, the Premier Development League, W-League, Super-20 League and Super Y-League. The AGM will be held November 19-22.
The Super Y-League North American Finals runs parallel to the AGM. The competition begins Friday, November 20 and concludes Tuesday, November 24. The SYL finals are considered one of the top youth soccer events in North America.
“SoccerFest 2009 marks the conclusion of what has already been a spectacular year for United Soccer Leagues through what has only been a few months so far,” said USL President and Founder Francisco Marcos, who served as director of public relations and vice president of soccer operations for the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the North American Soccer League for eight years in the 70′s. “Our professional clubs reached new heights last year, exemplified by the offseason success in the CONCACAF Champions League by Montreal and Puerto Rico, who reached the quarterfinal and semifinal stages, respectively, with victories over top flight Mexican clubs. It was a prime example of why individuals such as executives from Mexican club Pachuca as well as others from clubs in Europe attended our AGM last year.”
Among the special guests were Luis Baraldi (VP, International) and Andres Fassi Jurgens (Executive VP) of CF Pachuca; Sporting’s Paulo Cardoso (Director of International Scouting), Rita Figueira (Director of International expansion and BOD member) and Diogo Matos (former player / Commercial Director of Sporting Academy); Jason Hughes (Director of International Development) of Celtic as well as Paul Fletcher (Chief Executive) and Martin Dobson (U-21 coach) of Burnley FC, which recently partnered with Next Level Academy to form the Cary Clarets in the USL Premier Development League and W-League.
The USL SoccerFest is an annual event in Tampa with a multi-year partnership between USL and the TBSC that makes Tampa the home of the USL SoccerFest through 2010.
“We could not feel more privileged to continue to host United Soccer Leagues’ SoccerFest in the Tampa Bay community,” said Tampa Bay Sports Commission Executive Director Rob Higgins. “We truly value our dynamic partnership with USL and look forward to working collaboratively with them on this premier event over the next two years.”
Held as part of the USL SoccerFest, the Five-A-Side Frenzy is a small-sided tournament that embraces many of the components of futsal, FIFA’s official small-sided game. Great soccer stars such as Pele and Ronaldo grew up playing the game and credit futsal with developing their skills. There are a few differences between futsal and soccer, but the main thing is that futsal uses a smaller ball that emphasizes touch over power. The second edition last year was sponsored by UMBRO, Fox Soccer Channel, Bright House and the Mix 100.7 FM.
2009 USL AGM
The Annual General Meeting, USL’s annual gathering of team executives and soccer dignitaries for operations and strategic planning meetings returned to Tampa in 2005 for the first time since 1997. The event was held in Clearwater the past seven years. Every year, over 300 team owners, executives and other important figures in the soccer community meet at the USL AGM to discuss important soccer issues. This three-day conference will feature representatives from each of USL’s senior teams ranging from Vancouver to Puerto Rico. The USL AGM also features the annual team and executive awards presentations and the USL Hall of Fame dinner. Last year, former USL First Division players Amos Magee and Pat Onstad, the current MLS Houston Dynamo goalkeeper, were honored along with long-time Northern Virginia Royals owner Mo Sheta during the ceremony as the eighth induction class for the USL Hall of Fame.
2009 Super Y-League North American Finals
USL’s biggest competitive event, the Super Y-League North American Finals returns to Tampa for the fifth year November 20-24. Founded in 1999, the league’s championship events have been successfully celebrated in Raleigh, NC, Rockford, IL, Orlando, FL, Philadelphia, PA, Cleveland, OH, and Atlanta, GA.
The Super Y-League North American Finals is a five-day assembly of the best 140 youth soccer clubs in North America. Boys and girls soccer clubs, ages 13 through 17, compete throughout the year in the U.S. and Canada for the right to compete in this event. Teams qualify from their respective regions (New England, Mid Atlantic, South Atlantic, Southeast, Midwest, Northwest, Northern California and Southern California). Regional representatives face the best from around North America in a quest to become league champions.
The 2008 Finals brought together clubs who would otherwise never compete. Teams from far off places such as Vancouver, Canada competed against clubs from Miami, Florida. Teams also represent the youth academies of some of the top professional clubs in North America. The Super Y-League includes youth teams organized by Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, DC United, Red Bull New York, Real Salt Lake (Florida) as well as youth sides of Women’s Professional Soccer team Washington Freedom and WPS affiliated teams FC Indiana, Chicago Red Eleven and MPS Boston Renegades.
The Super Y-League is foremost, a professionalized system serving as the first step for developing youth soccer players in North America. Affiliated with U.S. Soccer, the league is designed for talented youth players destined for professional or international careers. Through Olympic Development Program status events such as the SYL ODP Camps, the nation’s top players are also selected for National Team programs.
Hyatt Regency Tampa
Hyatt Regency Tampa is located in the heart of the financial and arts districts. The Tampa Convention Center, Port of Tampa, St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center and the Museum of Fine Arts are only a few blocks from the hotel. The Hyatt Regency is also minutes away from Tampa’s best shopping, dining and entertainment venues. Hyde Park Shopping Village is only a ‘trolley-ride away’ and when evening falls the same trolley will take you either to Channelside or Ybor City for a colorful night among the wide array of clubs and restaurants. For more about the Hyatt Regency Tampa, visit hyattregencytampa.com
Ed Radice Soccer Complex & Land O’Lakes
The majority of the 2009 SYL North American Finals, including all championship matches will be played at the Ed Radice Soccer Complex. The sprawling facilities serve as home for the W-League’s Tampa Bay Hellenic and to Hillsborough County United \- the 2006 U17 boys Super Y-League Champion. Fields at the Land O’Lakes Recreation Center will host preliminary and semifinal action.
Tampa Bay Sports Commission
The Tampa Bay Sports Commission is a private, non-profit, 501c3, charitable corporation that serves the entire Tampa Bay area as the lead organization for bidding on and hosting major amateur sporting events. Their mission is to attract, promote and/or organize major amateur sporting events, and grassroots youth sports programs, that foster the ongoing development and quality of life for the entire Tampa Bay area. The Tampa Bay Sports Commission works to unite all interests in the Bay Area under one full-service approach that provides leadership and guidance for the benefit of all parties involved with amateur and youth sports. The Sports Commission works with its convention and visitors bureau, Tampa Bay & Company to provide a wealth of services to potential events and their governing bodies. For more information about the TBSC, visit www.tampabaysports.org
United Soccer Leagues
Founded in 1986, United Soccer Leagues has become the largest organization of elite-level soccer leagues in North America by building on the vision, commitment, and passion of players, fans, and investors. Now in its third decade of operation, USL continues to be a driving force in the growth of soccer in the United States, Canada, and Caribbean. USL provides a clearly defined path for the progression of male and female soccer players beginning at the youth level (USL Super Y-League/USL Super-20 League), continuing up through the amateur level (USL Premier Development League/USL W-League) and on up to the professional level (USL First Division/USL Second Division). A platform for countless players to reach for their dreams each year, USL is devoted to developing the sport at the grassroots level in every community across the region.