Wide World of Soccer

Wide World of Soccer
by Alexander Hoffman
August 22, 2012

The Disney name conjures up many things: vacation, indelible memories, entertainment. You can also add soccer to the list.  

That’s because Disney hosts one of the premier soccer tournaments each winter, The Disney Soccer Showcase, with this year’s edition kicking off December 26 through January 3 back at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida. 

Tournament Director Channing Swears is a man who has been working on the Showcase for more than a decade, and has watched it steadily grow in size and esteem. 

“We started out with only four fields and now the tournament boasts 17 lighted fields,” said Swears, discussing how the tournament has expanded over the years. “The tournament is quite an undertaking to organize as we’re basically running two major events back-to-back. There are four days of boys’ games and then we turn around and have four days for the girls’ tournament.”

In addition to the highest level of competition, the tournament also attracts scouts. According to Swears, the last Disney Soccer Showcase had around 800 college coaches onsite, not to mention club coaches. 

“When the teams show up, there is definitely a sense of arrival for them,” He said. “This is it. They have come to play where it really matters, where they can truly test themselves. 

“It is a pretty impressive event to see. We have 17 full fields all being closely watched. There is such a high level of excitement. Last year’s showcase had some of the boys and girls event finals broadcast nationally on ESPN3.” 

The Disney soccer showcase is called “the Proving Ground,” which is a very apt name. For many of the players, this tournament offers the chance for them to showcase their talent before a large audience. People will be watching, scouts will be watching, and there is the chance that playing well could allow players to be recruited to play at a higher level, be it collegiate or club. 

One special feature this year is the new sponsor, A.S. Roma from the Italian League. Partnering with AS Roma adds a whole new element to the Disney Soccer Showcase. While not playing or practicing, teams (and guests too) can watch these professionals as they train. Tournament teams will even have the opportunity to interact with AS Roma players while they compete. 

And of course, a tournament sponsored by Disney also offers perks to both players and their families. Teams can get Disney deals and discounts for the parks and attractions so they can bask in all the non-soccer delight that Disney is known for. 

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