More Than 600 Kids from 11 States Played at All-Star Youth Football Tournament in Lake Wales
by James Coulter
While Washington DC faced lows of 20 degrees with chances of snow, Lake Wales has slightly milder weather at above 60 degrees. Micah, 13, of the Woodridge Warriors, considered it ideal weather for playing football with his team.
Micah had been playing football since he was four. He and his teammates took to the fields at the Lake Wales Soccer Complex. The weather was great, the fields were some of the best he played on, and his expectation that weekend, in his own words, was “that we win.”
“It is a nice field,” he said of the sports facility. “One of the best fields I have been to down here, the second best.”
Micah was one of more than 600 student athletes who attended the All-Star Youth Football Tournament in Lake Wales this Weekend. Over 625 players registered for the event, and a total of 25 teams competed on three fields at the Lake Wales Soccer Complex on both Saturday and Sunday.
Countless spectators lined each of the three fields with blankets and lawn chairs to watch the many football games hosted that weekend. Otherwise, they could peruse the concession stand, as well as the many food trucks and vendors on-site.
The football players arrived with their families from 11 states, including Delaware, Jersey, Washington DC, South Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. Their arrival filled out many of the local hotels, including the local Holiday Inn and Hampton Inn, explained Andy Oguntola, President of PSC Lake Wales Campus.
Oguntola had arranged the football tournament with Chad Mascoe, Owner of Athletes United Group. The event had been hosted for the past three years, and they wanted to bring it to Lake Wales, not only to utilize their Soccer Club facility, but also to facilitate local economic development.
“Our ultimate goal for this weekend is to bring good competitor football here for all these people traveling from all across this country, and let these kids have an end-of-the-season good football event,” Mascoe said. “Andy brought me out here and showed me the facility. For me, it was a no brainer. We were able to bring three fields out here, and we had a lot of parking and space out here, and it was a great area to do it.”
Friday evening before the big weekend, Oguntola and Mascoe hosted an adult social for the parents and a bowling party for the children over at Cypress Lanes in Winter Haven. With their families taking lodging at local hotels, eating at local eateries, and engaging in other activities, the sports event has proven to be a real spur for local economic development, Oguntola said.
“Our goal and focus is to bring great football to Polk County, but most importantly, it is MLK Weekend, and we want to make sure we keep the kids on the field and out of the streets, so our whole focus is to turn young boys into men,” he said. “We want to thank the City of Lake Wales for their support, City Manager James Slaton, and Mrs. Stephanie for helping us put this together, and also our City Commisioners.”