BARBOURSVILLE, WV (WOWK) – An event with the “goal” of bringing more people into West Virginia will be coming to two sports complexes in the Mountain State.
Kicking off another year of youth soccer, the Barboursville Sports Complex and the Shawnee Sports Complex in Kanawha County will host the 2024 U.S. Youth Soccer Eastern Regional Championships competition, which brings in more than 250 boys and girls teams from across the eastern part of the U.S.
This event has brought with it a lot of traffic for these areas in the past, which coaches and parents say is the goal.
“We’re traveling to all these other places and we take our money to those areas. Now, they’ve got to bring the money to us,” Square ONE Sports Owner Robert Ngumire says Wednesday evening before youth soccer training.
“Restaurants are going to be filled, hotels are going to be filled, it’s always good when we win these contracts with these tournaments. Sometimes you’ll meet people and they’ve never been to West Virginia except for a soccer tournament, so it does bring people to our area,” West Virginia Youth Soccer Club Parent Jeff Prichard says as his son practices at the Barboursville soccer fields.
Many parents like Prichard say if their teams qualify for the national championships this year, it will be nice to get to stay close to home.
“To have it in your backyard, you’re sleeping in your own bed. It’s honestly a little advantage for our local kids. Our local teams do a little better when it’s home. It gives you opportunities to see teams that you wouldn’t see because you’re not normally traveling to New York or New Jersey. So, it opens up a lot of different things for the kids,” Prichard says.
Local officials say no matter who wins the championships, with the new opportunities for area youth and the economic boost that comes with it, there are winners all around.