One of the largest minor sports events ever held in the Town of Osoyoos is coming to town next weekend as the Pinnacles Football Club Cup will bring more than 850 young soccer players to this community.
Formerly known as the South Okanagan Youth Minor Soccer (SOYSA) Cup, the huge year-end tournament has traditionally been held in Penticton.
However, since the Pinnacles Football Club (PFC) took over operation of the minor soccer program across the South Okanagan earlier this year – after SOYSA disbanded after more than 40 years in operation – the board of directors decided it was time to allow other communities to host major events, said Ezra Cremers, the executive director and head coach of the PFC program.
“One of our top priorities in taking over the program is to realize this is a South Okanagan minor soccer program and not one that focuses solely on the kids from Penticton,” said Cremers. “Our program has kids from Summerland south to Osoyoos and we want our young players to enjoy success across the region and we want other communities outside of Penticton to be able to host major tournaments.
“During a visit to Osoyoos in March at the beginning of our season, we realized that Osoyoos has all of the facilities and the community support to be able to host our year-end tournament. We wanted to see what kind of reaction we would get and we were blown away with the support from the local coaches and players and decided the time was right to bring our big year-end tournament to Osoyoos.”
All minor soccer teams from the South Okanagan who played this past spring in the PFC program will be coming to Osoyoos for the PFC Cup tournament, said Cremers.
The tournament will be held Saturday and Sunday June 22-23. Three fields will be used at the Desert Park racetrack facility infield, along with both fields at Osoyoos Secondary School.
“We have all of our kids from U-11 up to U-18 playing in this tournament,” said Cremers. “We expect around 850 kids to be playing throughout the weekend. When you combine the parents, coaches, brothers, sisters and grandparents, there should be well over 1,000 people participating in this tournament, which we think is kind of a big deal in a small town like Osoyoos.”
Staff with the Town of Osoyoos, including Gerald Davis, the director of community services, has been fully supportive since the PFC board approached the town about possibly playing host to this major tournament, said Cremers.
“Once we held preliminary discussions with the local board from Osoyoos minor soccer, we approached the town and they were very excited about getting involved,” said Cremers. “The town has done a great job of getting all of their fields in terrific shape and staff made it clear Osoyoos was capable of hosting a tournament with this many kids involved.”
The PFC hosts an annual Spring Cup tournament in March and Osoyoos will likely get the nod to host that tournament next spring if things go well next weekend, said Cremers.
“I know Osoyoos would be a favourite to host our Spring Cup on a regular basis because you get the best weather in the country and there are a lot of people who would love to come to Osoyoos in the early spring and have their kids play in the tournament, while they get to enjoy the nice weather and a bit of a vacation,” he said.
Although regular-season champions have already been declared, this PFC Cup provides one final opportunity for all teams involved in minor soccer across the region to try and claim a championship, said Cremers.
“Everybody starts at scratch at the year-end tournament,” he said. “While we expect a lot of the regular season champs will win, there were a lot of divisions where the competition was very close and we expect many of the teams who didn’t win titles during the regular season to step up and have a big tournament and pull off some upsets.
“We’re also hoping a couple of teams that might have struggled a little during the regular season can put together a great weekend of soccer and win a championship.”
Medals will be handed out to all teams finishing first and second in the PFC Cup, he said.
Special to the Chronicle