By Wehtahnah Tucker
ENCINITAS — Thousands of young soccer players and their families signaled the start of the season as they descended upon fields in the city and southern Carlsbad for the 22 annual Encinitas Rotary Soccer Cup Aug. 6 and Aug. 7.
According to organizers, 125 teams participated this year with a total of 2,100 players in various age brackets.
“All the money that we raise goes back into the community for various reasons,” said Tournament Director Toni DeCarlo. Some of the funds go towards soccer scholarships, field improvements and dictionaries for area elementary schools.
“We give back to the soccer clubs and much more,” DeCarlo said. “It was a fantastic tournament this year.”
“This is a great, local event that the kids look forward to every year,” said Patricia Cameron, whose daughter and son both played in the tournament.
“It’s a little challenging when you have two kids in the tournament, but all of the fields are pretty close together and the games are spaced out well. Somehow we always make it work.”
“This really is about building confidence in yourself as a player and as a team,” said John Parker, who has coached recreational and competitive soccer for over a decade.
“For at least half of these teams, this is the first real chance they have to play together in a competitive setting, and from what I’ve seen so far they are doing a great job.”
“It was fun but we didn’t make it to the finals,” said player Michelle Baldwin. “I think we need to pass more and maybe get more shots on the goal. There’s always next year.”
After 22 years, the cornerstone event of the Encinitas Rotary Club remains the Encinitas Rotary Soccer Cup. It began with 64 clubs participating and brought about 1,000 players to the event.
The localized tournament has grown to attract talent from neighboring counties and expanded opportunities for youth soccer tournament experience. Since it’s inception, the tournament has raised more than $1 million dollars.
The Rotary Club of Encinitas supports diverse projects such as assisting the Lost Boys of the Sudan and other refugees who are adjusting to life in the United States through Refugee Network, building homes in Mexico with Project Mercy and purchasing wheelchairs for people in Malawi.
At the same time, club members are actively involved in the local community through their personal support of such organizations as Casa De Amparo, the Jonathon Tarr Foundation and the Encinitas Educational Foundation.
The organization also supports the community by honoring a Teacher of the Month, Peace Officer of the Year and a Local Peace Maker of the Year.
The Encinitas Rotary Club was organized in 1939 as one of 32,000 clubs worldwide that has branches in 168 countries.
Rotary has more than one million business and professional members. It is the largest international service organization in the world.