Friday, August 30, 2002

Soccer boon for London

Friday, August 30, 2002
By KATHY RUMLESKI, Free Press Sports Reporter

This weekend's 25th annual Henderson soccer tournament is expected to bring an economic spinoff of close to $3 million to London. And while the final numbers aren't available yet from the Canada Games, Ed Lauterbach, the president of the London United Soccer Club that runs the Henderson, believes his event is comparable. "There's no ifs, ands or buts," he said. "It's great for the city. There's no cost to (London). It all comes out of our operating budget. "I'm not knocking the Canada Games. (But) the upfront cost was phenomenal." About 3,000 kids (180 teams of under-9 to under-19, boys and girls) will participate in the tournament. "When you're bringing that number of teams, especially their age groups, you get a pretty good family number," said Bob Graham, Tourism London's sport manager, who added that the Henderson has seen "significant growth" over the last couple of years. That's lots of people staying in hotels, shopping, buying food and gas, he said. If you need a hotel room in London this weekend -- forget it. There's also a 300-team slo-pitch tournament in town. Graham said Labour Day weekend is one of two or three weekends in the year when everything is booked solid. London United has already sent people out of town to Woodstock, St. Thomas, Tillsonburg and even Kitchener for accommodations. "We booked wherever we could get," Lauterbach said. This year's edition of the popular tournament has an added incentive for teams wanting to win the prestigious event. The Henderson recently has been designated as one of only 10 SuperClubs regional qualifying tournaments in North America. SuperClubs, based in Stanley, Kan., runs a national championship in Orlando, Fla., every year for elite soccer teams. The top two teams in each age group at the regional tournaments are invited to the Orlando championship, held at Disney's Wide World of Sports. "It elevates the status of this tournament," said London United's Aldo Caranci, who worked with SuperClubs to get the designation. "Next year, we can pick and choose who comes in." More than 200 colleges and universities have sent scouts to various SuperClubs events and Caranci said there could be some this weekend, although it would be scouts looking down the road as most of the university teams have already been set for this season. Henderson tournament chairperson Laurie Workman said her tournament is quite competitive and draws the best teams from around the province who are serious about their soccer. "There's a couple of good reasons to go into good tournaments. "One is to see the calibre of play that's out there. It raises your own bar. Also . . . the scholarship and scouting potential." Games begin tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. and will run through to Monday when semifinals and finals are set. The last game is scheduled for 12:45 p.m. Monday. Games will be played at several sites, including the London Psychiatric Hospital fields, the North London complex and City-Wide fields. The tournament is celebrating its 25th year. "Internally, we're really proud of that," Workman said. Information and schedules can be found at


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