A Juneau adult soccer tradition is turning 25.
The 7-A-Side Tournament, sponsored by the Capital City Soccer League, is hosting its 25th annual tournament beginning at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park, and this year’s tourney theme is ‘All about Juneau.’
“This year, since it’s the 25th year, we wanted to put the focus back on Juneau,” CCSL Co-Director Troy Martin said. “The city’s been really good for this tournament so each team will be named after a section of the city, the fields are named after different soccer fields here in town, and there will probably be some gifts tied into the city of Juneau — gift certificates and things like that.”
Martin said the tournament averages about 30 to 40 players, and has drawn as many as 60.
“It really just depends on what else is going on,” he said. “There’s a softball tournament this weekend and, of course, if the weather is nice people might be fishing.”
The minimum age for players is 15 years old, with no maximum age limit. The deadline to register is 10 a.m., the cost is $20 and games will last until about 3:30 p.m.
Players will be placed on a team Saturday morning to ensure balance.
Games are 30 minutes long with 7 players on each side, including a goalkeeper. The field is about 1/3 of a normal soccer field and uses small goals, which are about 8-x-6 feet across and about 5 1/2 feet tall. Referees will officiate and no offside penalties will be called.
Martin said the games involve a lot of touches for each player and put an emphasis on good passing.
“You’re looking at a much smaller field,” he said. “It makes it a much quicker game, with a lot more touches for each player. You don’t have the advantage of sitting back and relaxing as a player, and you’re pretty much constantly engaged in the game, making runs on the attack or getting back on defense and trying to slow the opponent.
“It requires much more precise passing and much quicker ball control,” he continued. “You can’t just kick it long and let your forwards run. You actually have to put it at their feet. It favors the young, the quick and the bold.”
The tournament traditionally marks the start of the summer soccer season in Juneau, and its goal is for players of different ages, skills and genders to play together.
“I believe the original founders of CCSL saw the need and realized they needed some way to start off the summer season,” Martin said. “They knew it would be tough to get everyone together at once so they went with a 7-a-side, which is a smaller team, and just kept it going over the years.”
The CCSL is a nonprofit organization focused on increasing adult soccer opportunities in Juneau, offering three seasons throughout the year: indoor fall and winter, and outdoor summer. The CCSL offers Men’s and Women’s competitive leagues, plus Women’s Classic and a Masters Division. A competitive league tournament signals the end of the summer season in August.
“Our competitive seasons start June 19 and play twice a week through early August,” Martin said. “And then there’s another tournament for the competitive teams that closes our outdoor season.”
Visit juneausoccer.com, or search for Capital City Soccer League on Facebook for more information on the CCSL.