The Prince Rupert Football Club (PRFC) won’t have to load themselves into carpools like they have all summer to attend their last soccer meet in August.
For the first time in three years, the PRFC United will host their own northwest soccer tournament from Aug. 30 – Sept. 1, and they have commitments from five teams so far while they wait to hear back from another group of willing participants.
“We’re hoping for eight [teams],” said PRFC manager James Brown.
Three Prince Rupert teams have already signed on, as well as Gitanyow and the United’s arch-nemesis, the Hazelton Strikers.
“We’re hoping to draw in Kitwanga, Kispiox, the Nisga’a United team and Terrace,” added Brown.
A second team, led by Kendall Wing has entered the competition along with Fabio Pomponio’s Prince Rupert masters’ division team. Pomponio’s squad played in their first tournament in Terrace for Riverboat Days.
The Charles Hays Secondary School field will host the games for the first annual Labour Day Weekend Soccer Tournament and PRFC has won two championships and come in second-place twice in four tournaments. Brown and the squad wanted to attend fewer tournaments this summer after last season brought some wear and tear to their bodies.
“Last year we learned our lesson [of attending] too many and we got burned out. By the time Labour Day came around, we just couldn’t swing it,” said Brown.
The manager is currently looking for volunteers, judges, tents, tables, coolers and canopies to help with a barbecue and a 50/50 draw during the weekend.
With eight or more teams, the prize money pot will reach $4,000 and the team may even contribute some of its winnings from this past season to top up the pot as an incentive to woo more teams to join.
“For most teams, it’s quite expensive [to get here] so you have to have a real nice pot of prize money,” he added.
The team coming in second-place would earn $2,000 with third-place taking home $1,000. Brown has lined up Frazer Dodd to help referee the event and Kaien Environmental and Cope Designs has helped sponsor the trophies to be handed out.
And for the city’s first men’s open tourney in three years, Brown suspects his team can help make a push to re-popularize the game of soccer on the North Coast.
“I think it’s coming around. The talent base is there. We’ve got a lot of soccer players out there and they see exposure like this and they see everyone’s having fun [so it will help],” said Brown.