(Photos by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON --The largest soccer tournament from Memphis to St. Louis is back this weekend as the Sikeston Youth Soccer League (SYSL) will host their 13th Annual Bootheel Classic Soccer Tournament (BCST).
In what started out as a 17 team tournament back in 1995, the Classic has grown dramatically over recent years to become one of the largest sporting events in the state.
"Many people, parents and other volunteers go into the process of making this tournament a huge success year in and year out," said tournament director Phil Black.
Due to the increasing number of entries, for the first time the tournament will expand to a three-day format with action starting on the Nov. 2, under the Friday night lights. Teams will then battle it out all day Saturday and continue action into Sunday evening.
Sikeston alone will match the team total of the tournament's early beginnings with 17 all-star teams as they will take on 113 squads from all around the area.
Competitors will file in from four different states this year including teams from Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee and Arkansas. Some participants include Dexter, Cape Girardeau, Jackson, Perryville, Pacific and Kennett of Missouri. Marion, Union County, Carbondale, and Cobden will represent a few squads out of Illinois. Tennessee will be noted by Dyersburg and Covington while Arkansas's hope will rely on Green County.
"This is the largest tournament we've had to date," said Black. "I'm not sure what it is but it seems like all of the area teams love to be a part of this tournament. It is because of them that this all-star tournament is a success."
The BCST is for all ages with teams competing from the preschool and kindergarten level all the way to the high school level. Squads are divided between girls and boys which consist of an A team and a B team. Every team is guaranteed a minimum of three games while some teams, depending on the amount opponents in their division, may play up to six games.
The top teams in each division will be awarded trophies based on their point totals of a scoring system. Each squad will gain six points with a win, three points for a tie, and zero points for a loss. In all the games, the winning team can also gain up to three extra points based on the amount of goals they scored in that particular match.
This proves to not only be a great time of the year for soccer fans but also for the downtown merchants and business of the area as an estimated 5,000 to 8,000 parents, spectators, and supporters will flow into Sikeston boosting the town revenue.
"Downtown merchants tell us 'its our biggest revenue weekend behind the Thanksgiving, Black Friday weekend'," Black added.
Along with an economic impact for area business, the SYSL will also prosper from this event as donations and profits of the tournament will go to investments for the Sikeston Sports Complex. This will help in future sporting investments as well as current lighting, sprinkler systems, scoreboards, goals, netting and concession stands.
The BCST is the second and largest stop among three of the areas more popular all-star tournaments. The first stop consisted of action held in Carbondale which consisted of 80 teams last weekend while the final stop will conclude in Cape Girardeau which is expecting 120 teams on Nov. 10-11.
In the Carbondale tournament, the Sikeston second grade boys placed first along with the third and fourth grade girls. The fifth and sixth grade boys placed second due to the scoring system although they defeated the first place team while the seventh and eighth grade girls also placed second.
Those interested in keeping track of the BCST can log on to the SYSL website, www.sikestonsoccer.org, for scheduling information and scoring updates.
"Who knows what future holds for this tournament but with the addition of more fields and more hotel rooms around the area one can only expect it to grow," said Black. "One thing is for sure, it just takes a tremendous amount of cooperation from all the parents, coaches, officials, volunteers and soccer fans for this to be the success it is. Thanks to all involved."