TROY — Thousands of soccer players and families descended on Miami County this weekend in an event that brings what organizers estimate are millions of dollars to the local economy.
According to Dave Pappas, who heads up the event with his wife, Becky, the Troy Strawberry Soccer Invitational draws more than 200 hundred teams to Miami County from Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky.
“We expect almost 9,000 attendees,” he said. “The economic impact is $2.2 million for the county.”
The thousands of players and families need places to stay and to eat, and the tournament committee has worked with the Miami County Visitors Bureau to ensure availability of hotel rooms, Pappas said.
The event, which is in its 21st year, is one of the oldest youth soccer tournaments in the state, Pappas said.
Pappas and his wife have been involved in the event from its early days. When the tournament was first held in 1998, it took place at a single location, Duke Park in Troy. The tournament has long-since outgrown Duke and takes place in parks in Troy, Piqua and Tipp City.
The event requires about 200 referees from “as many states as the teams come from,” Pappas added.
The tournament used to be held during Strawberry Festival weekend in Troy, hence the tournament’s name. Eventually, however, the tournament outgrew the first weekend in June and many teams found it easier to commit to a tournament in May.
Many of the teams participating have played in the tournament before, Pappas said.
“We do fairly well with word of mouth,” he said.
The tournament benefits the Trojan Soccer Club, the Troy High School soccer parents and the Piqua Youth Soccer Association.
“It’s an effective fundraiser for the soccer programs,” Pappas said. “I grew up in a community that had a pretty strong soccer program and when I came to Troy, I wanted to make that a reality here as well.”
Reach Cecilia Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org.