Rockford, Illinois News

Major soccer tournaments return to Rockford area

ROCKFORD — Youth and teen athletes will be showcasing their skills and competing for championship as one of the area’s largest soccer tournaments returns to the region.

The 2021 Puri Cup College Showcase will happen Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, April 9-11, and the 2021 Puri Champions Cup will happen Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, April 16-18.

The multi-weekend tournaments will be played at Mercyhealth Sportscore One, 1288 Elmwood Road, Rockford, and Mercyhealth Sportscore Two, 8800 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park. The Puri Cup College Showcase includes 201 teams representing U12-U19-year-old athletes in boys and girls divisions. The high level of competition also attracts approximately 28 college coaches to scout and recruit players.

The Puri Champions Cup is a competition for 335 teams representing mid-to-lower level boys and girls teams in the U8–U19 age range.

“We are thrilled that so many soccer players will be able to return to the field to compete in this popular soccer tournament,” Rockford Raptors FC Executive Director Frank Mateus said. “Soccer is a big part of so many families’ lives, and has tremendous physical, emotional, and mental benefits. Thank you to our Raptors families for their continued support and hard work, as well as the Rockford Park District and the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, who work behind the scenes to support the tournament and make guests feel welcomed.”

The combined Puri Cup tournament weekends make it the largest soccer tournament held in the Rockford region, with approximately 1,750 total hotel room nights, and is expected to have an economic impact of $1.29 million.

“It is very exciting to see the return of sports tournaments in the region after a long year of COVID-19 cancelling plans,” Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (RACVB) Director of Sales and Servicing Lindsay Arellano said. “[The] Puri Cup is a staple soccer tournament in the Rockford region that many hotels, restaurants, and other partners value for the economic impact it brings to the region. Sports tourism plays a vital role to many in our community, and it’s great to be welcoming over 200 teams for the first weekend and over 330 teams for the second weekend.”

All local and state COVID-19 mitigation protocols are being followed, as safety continues to be a top priority for the Rockford Park District. Masks must be worn by players, coaches, referees, and spectators at all times, even during games.

“We want everyone to play it safe but still have fun over these next two weekends,”Mercyhealth Sportscore General Manager Louis Mateus said. “It’s been a long time since we have been able to host such a large tournament, and even though a variety of modifications are in place, we are looking forward to players, coaches, and guests utilizing two outstanding sports facilities and stopping and supporting local businesses to and from games. We missed having these types of action-packed weekends.”

Additional information related to the tournament can be found at rockfordraptors.org.