Toys For Tots tourney offers vital pre-season test, supports good cause
By Charles Boehm
Some parts of the Washington, D.C. region slow down dramatically in August, as certain sectors of the federal government are curtailed or closed up entirely.
But the area’s soccer scene is usually a hive of activity as clubs, players, officials and many others ramp up for the fall season, and few are busier at the moment than Northern Virginia heavyweights Prince William Soccer, Inc., whose Toys For Tots tournament will help more than 200 teams tune up for the fall campaign when it kicks off this Saturday.
“We just have a lot of stuff going on with the tournament, we have four camps that are going on this week and then trying to finalize details of the coming recreational season – very hectic,” said PWSI operations manager Rob Cheshire, who spared a few moments to chat about the upcoming tournament with Soccer Wire on Monday. “But things are going well.”
Cheshire and his colleagues are still waiting to discover whether their brand-new, artificial-turf field at Howison Park will be completed in time for Toys For Tots’ opening weekend, which features Under-9 through U-12 action. Older age groups take the field the following weekend.
“We’re hoping that Field No. 1 at Howison will be ready this week so that we can use it for games and have everything held on turf,” Cheshire said, explaining that the new pitch’s turf was laid on Monday, with the infill process still to come.
For its host club’s coaches, the 17-year-old Toys For Tots tourney represents an important measuring stick as they prepare their players for the league competitions ahead, with well-balanced division groupings highlighted by several statewide powerhouses in the U-16 girls and U-10 boys brackets.
“It’s huge for us as far as hosting, because the tournament is a fundraiser, especially for the Toys For Tots program,” said Cheshire. “On a clubwide level, we look at it not so much as going out to win it, but as a great evaluation period to see where we are to start out the season. Going into our league play, we have a good idea of how our teams are playing, and go forward in assessing them on what they need to get better on, what areas we’re doing a good job in.”
It also gives all involved a chance to support one of the region’s most respected charities, the Marine Corps’ annual toy-collection effort.
“We do encourage everybody to bring an unwrapped toy for the Toys For Tots program,” said Cheshire, who urges tournament participants and spectators alike to chip in as much as they are able. “It’s a huge program that we really are committed to and we like giving them as many toys as we possibly can to help out with their efforts.”