Team Germany and Team Mexico took home top honors at the inaugural Boys & Girls Club World Cup Soccer Tournament that wrapped up on Friday evening in Brownwood.
Kids ages 7 to 12 participated in the 3-on-3 tournament, which kicked off last Friday before wrapping up this week. In addition to the winning countries, kids played on teams representing Brazil, Ireland, Argentina, France, England, Mexico and the Ivory Coast.
Khloee Long of Team Brazil also won a prize for sportsmanship on Friday.
Each World Cup team played six matches against children of the same age group, gaining three points for a win and one for a draw. Mexico and Germany accumulated the most points during the competition.
Howard Payne graduate student and assistant tennis coach Stanley Roffe organized the soccer tournament, which he conceived during an event-planning class in the HPU sport and wellness leadership program.
“Last semester we planned the event we were going to do,” Roffe said, “and this semester we went ahead and fulfilled it, which is what we’re doing right now.”
Roffe originally wanted to organize a tennis tournament. “I decided a soccer tournament would be better, because the kids are able to do stuff as a team,” he said. Roffe enlisted the help of the Howard Payne men’s soccer team, who served as coaches during the tournament and helped teach the kids about soccer in the weeks before.
Howard Payne head soccer coach Estevan Arbaiza said his team was excited to work with a new generation of players. He said the team’s captain, Michael Westerman, is himself a former Boys & Girls Club participant.
“We’ve been coming out once a week kind of teaching basic skills and basic rules about soccer,” Arbaiza said, “to try to raise the level of play a little bit for the tournament. It’s been good. We have some guys who want to coach and teach and stuff, and we’re trying to be a little more involved in the community. Our guys really like it.”
Danny Willingham runs the Boys & Girls Club of Brown County. He said the tournament has exposed kids to soccer who might never have considered it before. “It turned out a lot better than I even imagined,” Willingham said. “There are kids out here playing soccer that would not play soccer anywhere in Brownwood for any team … that might, after this, start playing soccer, because they got exposed to it and they had fun.”
Both Arbaiza and Willingham credited Roffe for organizing an outstanding event and getting the different groups involved. “This couldn’t have happened without him,” Willingham said.
Roffe, too, expressed his appreciation for the soccer team and the Boys & Girls Club for their support and assistance. He said he was surprised at how many kids wanted to participate in the tournament, especially here in football territory.
“That was one of the things that Danny and I had definitely spoken about,” he said, “but as soon as we did a couple of Wednesdays we were having 40 or 50 kids out here right on the field … It ended up working out pretty well, actually.”
Roffe and the soccer team were even able to teach the kids about the countries they represented. “We got to draw up a flag and basically learn where their country is and who their best soccer players are,” he said. “I found it to be very beneficial and interesting.”
Willingham said the tournament went so well, he’s hoping to continue it next year.
The Boys & Girls Club of Brown County is located at 1701 Ave. L in Brownwood. It offers affordable after-school and summertime options for kids ages 6 to 18.