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Tournaments May 08, 2012

PWSI begins prep for 17th edition of Toys For Tots Tournament

By Roger Gonzalez

Prince William Soccer will again play host to young athletes from all over the East Coast with their annual Labor Day weekend soccer event, the Toys For Tots Tournament.

Played on Bermuda grass and professional-grade synthetic turf fields across Prince William County, Va., Toys For Tots has carved out a reputation as one of the better bets among curtain-raisers for the fall season, providing quality competition for the benefit of a worthy cause.

The tournament, whose 17th edition takes place this fall, supports the National Capital Toys for Tots campaign, gathering donated toys for less fortunate children.

“We try to give back,” PWSI executive director Mike Yeatts told The Soccer Wire. “It was a natural partnership for us. In youth soccer, we are about making lives better…Toys for Tots is a natural fit.”

PWSI recently announced the dates for the 2012 edition, and organizers will continue to split the event into two weekends. Small-sided games in Under-9 through U-12 levels will take place August 25-26, and on Labor Day weekend, U-13 to U-19 players do battle.

While the players run wild on the pitches, aiming for glory during the weekend festivities, every single person involved does their part to make sure those who aren’t as fortunate have a great time come winter.

The tournament has donated thousands of play items since its inception. As always, each player is encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to registration or to various game-site collection locations.

“We store them until November and the Marines come pick them up at our storage facility,” Yeatts explained. “Every year, we get hundreds upon hundreds of toys. It’s really heartwarming to see that generosity.”

But these aren’t just any toys. Yeatts praised the gift-giving participants and their parents for purchasing quality gifts as if for their own children.

“They are $30-40 toys if you go to Toys ‘R’ Us,” he said. “They are quality toys…These are great gifts that any kid would love to have.”

For those wanting to get involved in the tournament, registration ends on July 28. Yeatts is expecting anywhere between 250 and 300 teams. And while scoring goals and earning a trophy are natural goals for participants, he stresses that all should keep in mind what the competition is all about.

“I think the whole experience — it is on great fields, we have some great teams and great competition,” Yeatts said. “To tie that in, there is a great cause attached to it. I hope that the kids get involved by going out to pick up the toy and get an understanding of what it is we are trying to do: to give to those who are less fortunate.”

[ +Visit the Toys For Tots Tournament’s home page for more information ]