Despite oppressive heat and humidity, members of the Great Falls Soccer Club ran their hearts out at the group's tournament fund-raiser, held in the Nike fields next to Forestville Elementary School on June 1.
"I just like running and basically winning," said Jessica Keys, 7. "It's been really fun."
Her friend Jacqueline Kotoriy, also 7, ranked "getting to play with your best friend" as one of the highlights of the tournament.
Great Falls Soccer Club teamed up with professional soccer team DC United and Adidas to offer an event that featured games for children and appearances by pro players and Talon, the DC United mascot.
The purpose of the tournament was to raise funds to maintain the fields used by the Great Falls Soccer Club. The fields are maintained to a certain degree by Fairfax County, but the Great Falls Soccer Club adopts them in order to ensure that they get priority in using them. The fields cost the Club between $70,000-95,000 a year to maintain.
"We have 1,200 kids in the club, so we need quite a few fields," said Rick Heilbrunn, Commissioner of Great Falls Soccer Club. "We maintain about a dozen fields in and around Great Falls... the county likes having fields adopted."
HEILBRUNN SAID that there was no specific monetary goal for the tournament.
"We didn't even set a target," he said. "We do this mainly for fun for the kids, but of course as an all volunteer group we raise money wherever we can."
The tournament was divided into two segments. From 4:30-6 p.m., the "Little Kickers" and Under 7 (U7) members played two on two games. From 6-7 p.m., the older children played.
"I've been playing soccer since I was 3," said Brendan Ryan, 9. "My favorite thing was trying to score, but I just started being a goalie."
His friend Daniel Blankinship, 9, said he enjoyed "trying to steal and shooting" the most.
Jonathan Spector, a defender on the English Premier League Manchester United, was on hand to meet club members. Spector said that although they did not do a lot of two on two tournaments in England, members of the team did participate in various community events.
"We do all kinds of different things like visit hospitals and schools," said Spector.
Spector recently had surgery for a shoulder injury and is doing his rehabilitation in the U.S.
"I actually knew about this tournament from my dentist," said Spector.
U.S. NATIONAL TEAM member Jennifer Grubb helps to run cross training drills for the U12 teams, and came to the event as well.
"I think it's awesome," said Grubb. "When I was a youth I didn't really have the opportunity to play for a club... I think it's really impressive, both the amount of kids that turn out for the event and the number of adults and officials that get involved."
Great Falls Soccer Club Steering Committee member Ian Winstanley said that the purpose of the Club is to "try and give the Great Falls community the opportunity to play soccer at different levels." The Club's Traveling teams play in matches in Maryland and throughout Virginia.
"The travel teams are a little more competitive, so they give that edge along with the enjoyment," said Winstanley.