WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Local businesses get a kick out of this weekend’s annual Seaside Soccer Classic. The 18th annual tournament will bring in nearly 5,000 youth soccer players to the Cape Fear area.
Though the tournament officially kicks off tomorrow, many players and their parents arrived this afternoon. Some say they just wanted to hit the beach before hitting the field.
“I’m a Long Island girl, and I can’t wait to dip my toes in the ocean,” said mom Lori Loaya of Fuquay Varina. “We’re inland toward Raleigh, so we don’t get the ocean as much. So that’s what we’re looking forward to, Wrightsville Beach.”
Tournament director Antonio Saviano says this year’s Seaside Classic will have the largest turn-out since it started 18 years ago.
“About three years ago we only had about 147 teams, and this year we got to 300 teams,” he said. “People like to come to the beach, the area, and we organize a pretty good tournament.”
Players say they’re pumped up to compete. They say they’ve been preparing for the tournament for months.
“Every week we had to do two practices, and we got to go to a couple of games around North Carolina, watching professionals play and seeing what they do,” Mikela Loaya said.
The president of the New Hanover County Tourism Development authority says the soccer tournament will generate about $5.5 million for the local economy.