Flavor de Futbol tournament descends on Woodburn
"If you build it, he will come."
The signature line from the 1989 movie Field of Dreams may have been about constructing a baseball field, but 30 years later it's just as apt in describing Woodburn's inaugural Flavor de Futbol soccer tournament.
The joint dream of the Woodburn Area Chamber of Commerce, the Woodburn Futbol Club and the Woodburn School District, the Flavor de Futbol tournament is poised to be an annual premier event in the city for years to come when it kicks off Friday at Woodburn High School.
"The response has been awesome. We have teams coming from all over," tournament director and chamber president Melinda Avila said. "We're going to end up with about 60 teams. We're expecting about 4,000 people. It's pretty incredible."
The idea of a large, regional youth soccer tournament hosted in Woodburn is not new by any means. A hotbed of local soccer enthusiasm bolstered by a swelling of youth club teams that have helped feed a high school boys soccer program that has won six state championships since 2010, Woodburn seems to be the ideal place to host a grand-scale youth soccer tournament.
But despite the inherent local interest, club players have long been forced to travel to Portland, Washington, southern Oregon or further to compete. That sentiment has not been lost on tournament organizers.
"That's been everyone's response. I can't believe this is happening. It's finally happening," Avila said. "I don't know why it hasn't happened in the past. People are ready for it. This is the beginning of something so big. It's unbelievable."
If anything, the tournament's creation is proof positive of the power of timing. The creation of the Woodburn Futbol Club in 2018 under co-founders Mayra Vazquez and Brianna Spencer helped coordinate the local youth soccer scene under a single umbrella.
Combine that with the Woodburn School District's investment in a new artificial turf field that was approved in the spring and will serve as the primary host for the tournament, along with eager members of the Chamber looking to help coordinate the tournament, and everything seemed to come together all at once.
"When this vision first came about, I couldn't believe that Woodburn High School with all our state championships and al our elite soccer players, and the fact that in Woodburn, soccer is a religion, we were one of the last schools in the state of Oregon to have a turf field," Avila said.
The tournament will have additional games hosted at French Prairie and Valor middle schools to accommodate the field of participants, which features three teams from as young as U10 in seven-person matches up to U19 teams in traditional 11-person matches.
The proximity of the matches allows teams and fans to move between fields without the commute time experienced similar events at busier venues. The high school will serve as the primary host, where vendors serving snow cones, ice cream, drinks food, commemorative t-shirts, photography and music will set the tone for a festive atmosphere.
But perhaps most important, according to Avila, is that the event gives Woodburn community members a way to celebrate their city's signature pastime in a way that reflects the passion that the community has for the sport of soccer.
"What I really like about this event is that we're bringing all sectors of our community together," Avila said. "The volunteers and the participants — we're really bringing it all together. The business community, families are coming. It's just a great feeling."
Flavor de Futbol
Where: Woodburn High School, Valor Middle School, French Prairie Middle School