By Ray Hamill — The 2021 Humboldt Champions League soccer tournament began last weekend at the new Bear River Casino Resort field, attracting close to 100 of the top players from around the county.
The tournament was the brainchild of several local soccer enthusiasts, including College of the Redwoods women’s head coach Julio Ayala, and the final day of action, including the championship game, is scheduled for this coming Sunday.
And, according to Ayala, it’s been a huge success so far.
“The soccer community really bought into it,” he said. “There’s been a lot of buzz and excitement about it.”
The eight-on-eight co-ed tournament was open to any players aged 16 and up and attracted interest from several H-DNL alumni from numerous schools, as well as some former Humboldt State players.
Enough players signed up to fill out eight teams of 10 or more players.
“There were a lot of different people out there that wanted to play,” Ayala said.
The team of organizers also included Eureka assistant boys coach Juan Flores and his wife Manda, along with Ruben Flores and brothers Gustavo and Daniel Moreno.
“We got a lot of good feedback,” Ayala said. “People were just happy to be out there.”
The final day of action will be held this coming Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m., with the championship game scheduled for 4 p.m.
The winning team will be awarded the Humboldt Champions Cup.
According to Ayala, it’s the first time soccer has been played at new Bear River fields, which he says is perfect for the sport.
“It’s a new field and apparently no one had used it for soccer before, so we were able to get in there and kind of break it in,” he said. “It’s a beautiful place for soccer.”