The facility manager for the Batavia Soccer Park on Bank Street Road said that he is pleasantly surprised over the number of teams signed up to compete in the 2021 edition of the annual Empire Cup & College Showcase.
About 90 boys teams and 70 girls teams will make their way to the 16-field soccer complex over the next two weekends. That is about 40-percent less than usual, but a positive sign when considering the tournament was canceled last year.
“It’s definitely a better turnout that I expected, which is great. That leads me to believe that things are opening up again, including sports,” said Michael Henderson, of Fairport, coordinator of this and other activities at the park, which is owned and maintained by CY Farms and Batavia Turf.
Henderson, a teacher at Northeast College Preparatory High in Rochester, said teams from all over New York, plus Connecticut and Western Pennsylvania have entered. Competition will take place in age groups starting at 10 years old, all the way up to 19 years old.
The first weekend (May 8-9) is for the boys and the second weekend (May 15-16) is for the girls. Games are scheduled from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Henderson said the schedule is “pretty active,” with 12 to 13 games going on at once. Each team will play a minimum of three games.
“We’re careful, however, working with the New York State Governor’s Office, to make sure we follow the (COVID-19) guidelines,” he said. “Unfortunately, we won’t have any teams from Canada, which usually sends a large amount, due to travel restrictions.”
In its sixth year, the Empire Cup & College Showcase features clubs at different levels of play – some Elite or Premier as well as strong travel league teams, Henderson said. Youth in the 15-19 age groups will have more than family watching them as the tournament serves as a venue for college coaches to see potential recruits.
Henderson called the tournament – one of several on the soccer park’s schedule this season – “an economic kick to the area.”
“We always give a heads-up to our local restaurants because if we don’t they will be inundated,” he said. “A group of 15 to 20 kids coming into eat, it fills you up fast. Also, we contract with local hotels and try to keep it within the Batavia area.”
He credited the staff at Batavia Turf and CY Farms for continuing to do “an amazing job” for the community.
“For the local people, if you have a couple kids in the family, you can go to one place to watch them play rather than running all over the city to watch them,” he said. “It’s an awesome park.”
The park, located across the road from Cornerstone Church, hosts the Rochester District Youth Soccer League, which includes teams from Batavia, Le Roy, Pavilion and other Western New York communities.
For more about the Empire Cup & College Showcase and other information, go to www.bataviasoccerpark.com.