Youth soccer tournament draws thousands to the Suncoast

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SARASOTA, Fla. – Thousands of visitors flocked to the Suncoast this weekend for a huge soccer tournament, the 2nd annual 2014 Sarasota Cup.

The tournament attracts over 1,700 players, as more than 150 teams traveled from as far as Jamaica and Haiti to gather in Sarasota.

"They come to play soccer in this tournament to play against teams they haven't played against and to develop. FC Sarasota is known in this state as a developmental club," says FC Sarasota board member Steve Schroeter.

He says the tournament is so important because it gives local kids the opportunity to learn the game. "You know, we're recruiting kids from this area to play soccer and learn. We're providing a place for kids from across the state to come and play."

Economically, this has a huge impact on the county. "We're bringing 150 teams, probably close to 4,000 people in two days to come stay here in Sarasota County."

The growth this tournament is something businesses are excited about. "That’s a big impact economically on hotels, restaurants and services in general," says Schroeter.

FC Sarasota Academy director Steve Gent says this is the type of event that helps local soccer coaches and players alike. "Well, it helps us assess our players first of all to see where they are; it also helps them meet and greet with other players and see the quality and standards in other areas."

"The kids from our club, the kids from somewhere else, you're learning sportsmanship, you're learning different cultures, different ways and styles of play....and you only get that from a tourney that attracts internationally," says Schroeter.