TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Friday kicked off the start of the 30th annual Tucson Association of Realtors Fort Lowell Soccer Shootout at Kino Sports Complex.
Players and parents returned for another year out on the pitch. But they’re not the only ones who find themselves coming back for more.
“I don’t know any different," Paige Watson, a tournament volunteer, said.
The tournament is basically in Watson’s blood.
"I actually played in the first three shoot outs, I was 10 years old the first year. We have three generations. My mom’s on the board she’s been involved with it the whole time, then myself and my daughter,” she said.
Watson has been volunteering now for years, giving her a front row seat to the growth it’s seen over the decades.
“We bring in fresh blood and then all of us old timers stick around to make sure it’s still the Ft. Lowell shoot out and the end of the day,” Watson said.
It’s growth that exceeded its goal this year, with 375 teams playing from across the U.S., some even traveling from Mexico. A total of 380 teams applied but even with the bigger venue at Kino, some teams still had to be cut.
“We’re up almost 100 teams from last year,” Kat Jackson, the tournament’s executive director, said. "It has been quite the undertaking because you really don’t know what to expect with that increase.”
Jackson said the boost in teams brings in more business here to southern Arizona. A score for everyone involved.
"They usually estimate that we have an economic impact of 4 million dollars and that’s kind of been throughout the years so I can assume that it’s been growing," said Jackson.
No matter the score at the end of the weekend.
“I know they’re going to do their best and I just want them to have fun," said coach Juan Mata of Guanajuato Soccer League.
For more on the tournament click here.