DEL MAR — Dedicated youth athletes playing for Surf Soccer Club teams in San Diego and across the country were joined by players from international “super group” teams over the Memorial Day weekend for the annual Nexen Manchester City Cup in Del Mar and Oceanside.
Along with the excitement of playing competitive teams and gaining exposure at a national tournament, athletes also had the chance to see the English Premier League trophy, won by tournament sponsor Manchester City F.C. on May 22.
Displayed on Saturday at SoCal Sports Complex in Oceanside and Surf Cup Sports Park in Del Mar on Sunday, the trophy had its own plane ticket for the journey from England and was accompanied by two security guards clad in white gloves — only winners of the tournament are permitted to actually touch the trophy.
Miles Gardner, director of Americas for Manchester City F.C., said bringing the trophy is just one way the club engages with the local community at the premier tournament, with a long line of youth and families waiting to get a closer look and a photo. The trophy was also at the 2019 tournament.
“This tournament we’ve done for six years with Surf, so it’s a cool way for us to have an authentic engagement with folks,” Gardner said. “In the NFL Super Bowl, the team keeps the trophy … there’s a good little bit more allure around this.”
Over the course of the three-day tournament, the Oceanside and Del Mar fields saw approximately 7,500 youth players playing in multiple brackets by age group with around 15 kids per roster.
High school junior Daniela Aceves, a player for the NorCal Premier League in San Jose, said the tournament provides the chance to play other competitive teams and gain exposure.
“The fun part is coming out here, but the competitive part is playing other high-level teams and seeing college recruiters. It’s a cool opportunity,” Aceves said.
Aceves’ freshman teammate Sasha Handyside also attended the tournament in 2019.
“It was really fun. The fields are always nice here,” Handyside said.
At Surf Cup Sports Park in Del Mar, Surf Soccer Club girls teams played alongside the younger boys teams. For the Surf Idaho team of boys ages 8 to 10, it was their first time playing at the tournament.
“It’s been amazing,” said coach Andy Barber. “We’re not only getting to see the larger Surf nation, but also seeing what soccer is supposed to be. We’re just very thankful and trying to represent Idaho well.”
The international “super group” teams playing in Oceanside included clubs from Liverpool, Costa Rica and Tijuana, according to Gardner.