Youth soccer tournament focuses on more than wins

Alen Heu
Alen Heu
Mark Stewart
Mark Stewart

By Jason Tang - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL)-- These games won't be your average soccer competition. Sure teams will want to win, but in the end there won't be a first place trophy given out. Instead everybody walks away winners, because promoting healthy lifestyles is what the American Youth Soccer Organization is all about.

"The purpose and the point is first and foremost competition, there's always competition when the teams step on the field, but at AYSO we feel that the process is more important than result," said Mark Stewart, Vice President of the AYSO National Board of Directors.

One of the organization's main objective is to promote healthy lifestyles and foster good sportsmanship, but there's other reasons for the games too.

"The purpose of the the national games is a cultural event for kids all across the country to participate in something they all love which is soccer," said Alen Heu, Chairman of the AYSO National Games.

The competition begins Wednesday morning at the Waipio soccer complex, but there won't be a round robin to kick things off. Instead they'll have a Soccerfest, where players from different teams will mix together to experience a true cultural exchange.

"A lot of kids have participated, that is the number one thing they talk about and that is the thing they cherish most when they leave," said Heu.

Because this tournament isn't about winning. It's about helping to build healthy children that have the life skills necessary to succeed.

"Our mission statement is providing world class soccer that enriches childrens' lives and this is a perfect event for doing that," said Stewart.

Of the 181 teams participating, 49 of them are from Hawaii. Organizaers estimate the games will bring in about 10 million dollars to the local economy.

This is the 2nd time the State's hosted this event. The first time was in 2002.