WETHERSFIELD - The days of basketball’s Big Three has come to an end with Lebron James’ departure from the Miami Heat, but the road to crowning youth soccer’s Big Three will continue in Wethersfield on August 2 and August 3.
The fifth annual New England Soccerpalooza, the regional 3 vs. 3 youth soccer tournament held courtesy of KickIt and the Connecticut Convention in Sports Bureau, is coming to Mill Woods Park, and the winners go to Disney World.
And no, that’s not pulled from a bad Super Bowl postgame interview-between 10 and 15 percent of the nation’s estimated 7,000 3 vs. 3 teams will compete in a national competition in Disney World on Martin Luther King Day, according to KickIt Tournament Director Bryce Thornburg.
The New England regional tournament is just 1 of 10 being held throughout the country. It started at the state level, with 75 competitions held to filter it down to this stage, Thornburg said.
“There aren’t very many of those, [the regional tournaments] so we’re lucky to have the New England one here in Wethersfield,” said Stathis Manousos, President of the Wethersfield George D. Ritchie Soccer Club.
Three vs. three sounds like a new concept for a game that is traditionally played 11 vs. 11-including goalkeepers-but the fields will be adjusted to fit the numbers. Players will compete in a space that is 40 yards long and 30 yards wide with no goalkeepers, Manousos said.
“It’s exciting for the kids because there’s a lot of scoring and they get to touch the ball a lot,” Manousos said. “The more kids get to touch the ball, the more fun it is and the more goals they score, and they say that development wise it’s better.”
Not that the experience is reserved only for kids. While the “core group” of participants ranges from the 7-13 year old age group, the tournament has been known to have adult divisions, Thornburg said.
“I wish I could have played in all the ones I went to,” he said.