Soccer players generate big revenues for Hawaii's economy

Tom Mendoth
Tom Mendoth
Erin Crook
Erin Crook

By Stephen Florino - bio | email

WAIPAHU (KHNL) - Thousands of young soccer players are in Hawaii, battling in one regional of the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championship.

While the winners advance to the championship bracket in Arkansas, the real winner -- Hawaii's tourism industry.

Each one of these teams had to win their state's tournament to earn a berth in the regional's.

And now that they're here, they're going to enjoy their time in the islands.

When it comes to youth soccer, this is big time.

"Friend of mine said that this is something millions of kids dream of, just getting here, and a few do, so there's no way we would ever miss it," said parent Ron Miller.

Lots of people are here for the U.S. Youth Soccer West Regional.

And that's good news for Hawaii's economy.

"We've got about 5000 players and added spectators here," said Tom Mendoth, tournament director. "Ee'll generate anywhere from $12 (million) to $14 million worth of revenue for the State of Hawaii during the week that we're here."

Close to 250 teams are here from 13 states.

What's even better -- because most of these people traveled long and far, they're extending their stay in paradise.

"There's a number of us sticking around for another week. It's definitely the benefit of coming this way," said parent Phil Yearian.

"Absolutely. We're here to play, trying to find the balance, but certainly we have a couple of days where it's all over, where we probably will not be leaving the beach," said parent Erin Crook.

"I've done a little body surfing at Waikiki, done some snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, gonna go up to the North Shore and maybe do some body surfing up there. See some of the sights."

"We're enjoying it here definitely, but we're enjoying it here, and we're going to make the best of it."

But of course, it's business before pleasure.

"We're here to win. Definitely. After we win, everything else is second."

Unfortunately, some teams told us because state tournaments were held late last month, not all players from all teams made the trip.

And most had to fundraise extensively, to make it here.

So everyone here is making the most of this trip.