RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Over the next few days, thousands of high school soccer players from across the country will attend the Girls College Showcase in hopes of getting scouted.
The North Carolina Football Club Youth (NCFC Youth) estimates 5,500 soccer players and 350 college coaches will participate in weekend event.
“If you look at the calendar over the last year or so with obviously how COVID-19 has impacted the recruiting calendar, this is really one of the biggest opportunities normally, but incredibly important now for these kids to be able to understand what opportunities they have in front of them as they make decisions where they’re gonna go to school next year,” said Bryan Bachelder, NCFC Youth Tournament Director.
The massive tournament is happening as North Carolina consistently breaks records for COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. While it’s legally allowed, state health officials call the size and timing of the tournament concerning. Parents with daughters who have dreams of playing at the collegiate level say their future depends on soccer tournaments.
“As a parent, I think it’s important to try and at least maintain as much normalcy as you can,” said Roy Harris, who drove from Alabama so his daughter could participate in the tournament.
Harris’ wife Tamara added, “I think our biggest fear with the pandemic was actually being in a hotel, not actually out here in the open air where the girls can play.”
Bachelder told CBS17 the precautions the NCFC Youth has put in place have proved successful.
“We have no cases of COVID spreading from one player to another player for the entire year. That’s over 30,000 training sessions and games since Aug. 3,” he said. “It’s 350,000 times we’ve had a child out on the field here and at the end of it, there’s no transfer within the soccer setting.”
NCFC Youth has spaced out games to avoid crowds, and limits spectators to two per player. Starting this weekend, Governor Cooper’s new mandate requires players, coaches, and spectators wear masks at all times.
The Harris’ added, “We’ll keep our distance from other people and if you can look around and see, I think everybody’s got the same mindset. They just want the kids to play.”
Between hotels and restaurants, the NCFC Youth estimates the tournament will bring in about $6 million to the local economy.
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