Woodburn to host 'Flavor de Futbol'
It seems like no-brainer – a perfect fit for Woodburn – hosting a substantial, competitive soccer tournament.
But in order for that to happen, a few things needed to come together – and now they have.
The Woodburn Chamber of Commerce teamed up with Woodburn School District and Woodburn FC to schedule Flavor de Futbol, a sanctioned soccer tournament that is luring interest from teams that hail from all points around the Pacific Northwest. Those teams will be coming to Woodburn during the weekend of July 12-14.
Tournament organizers envision drawing 100 teams to participate, scheduling brackets for 7, 9 and 11-player squads, and they've reached out to hotels and motels locally and in Wilsonville and Keizer to chart out the available accommodations.
"The chamber has been looking for a signature event for some time," said Woodburn Chamber of Commerce Board President Melinda Avila. "We threw arounds some ideas, and our executive team met and one of the ideas is we (need to) come up with something Woodburn is known for.
"You know, we are known for soccer," Avila summarized the brainstorm.
That was in January, and other developments in the community were emerging simultaneously – most significantly the WSD Board's decision to appropriate funding for an artificial turf field, which enabled Woodburn High School's athletic department to immediately implement a project to replace the high school's grass field at Pat Cary Track & Field Facility.
That project is expected to be completed in advance of the June 7, 2019 graduation.
When the school board approved the funding, WSD Director of Human Resources Casey Woolley seemed to portend what was coming down the road. In discussing future developments of the turf facilities, he described the potential to host fundraisers or community events at the site.
"We're known for the outlet mall and our soccer, and this would be an opportunity to showcase that," Woolley said in January. "Set up signature events every year that would be a guaranteed revenue coming in."
Three months later and the artificial turf is being placed while a soccer tournament is being planned. The new field is envisioned as the site for the tournament's championship games.
In addition to consulting with Woodburn FC, the chamber discussed the idea with Oregon Youth Soccer Association.
"They were thrilled, because everyone knows that soccer is a culture here in Woodburn, and this is where soccer really lives," Avila said, pointing to WHS's 6 soccer state titles within the past decade to illustrate.
WHS soccer has the longest streak of consecutive playoff appearances among any sport in the state of Oregon, dating back to the mid-1980s. It's this type of history that makes a soccer tournament in town a perfect fit – especially a sanctioned one, Avila stressed.
She said organizers are encouraged by the initial feedback to their announcement.
"We're getting a lot of phone calls, having a lot of dialogue with other clubs, coaches," Avila said. "There are even some teams from Canada interested in coming down here to play."
Considering the scope and vision, the tournament-planning process came together quickly.
"Tournament conversations started in January, and we had to do some research, but we got the ball rolling fairly quickly," Avila said. "We are ready; everything is in motion. We're super excited -- excited for the whole community."
She credits the three-pronged partnership that put it all in place.
"It was important having all the right people at the right time, leading the same organizations who have the big vision for Woodburn: leadership at the school district, people who understand what soccer means to this community," Avila said. "The soccer club (Woodburn FC) is fairly new. So the resources came together at the right time."
What: Flavor de Football, a sanctioned soccer tournament.
Where: Woodburn School District's high school, middle schools and an elementary school fields.
When: Friday through Sunday, July 12-14.
Developments: Sponsorships and volunteers sought.