This past weekend, the Los Angeles Football Club’s youth academy, the LAFC Academy, was proud to host the first annual LAFC Invitational at the John Anson Ford Park in Bell Gardens, CA.
The tournament featured 48 teams comprised of 2004, 2006, and 2008 age groups from unaffiliated leagues across Los Angeles County. The top two teams in each age group advanced to the final rounds, ultimately competing for the tournament trophy that was awarded at a ceremony on Sunday. In contrast to most youth soccer tournaments that charge high fees, LAFC hosted the youth event at a reduced cost to teams in order to ensure that participation was not dependent upon financial means.
“It is important to the LAFC Academy that our teams represent and celebrate the diversity of our city,” said Todd Saldaña, LAFC Academy Director. “LAFC’s Invitational introduced us to coaches and players across our region who we may not have otherwise seen at this stage in our Academy’s development. We were excited to introduce them to LAFC and create such a meaningful event for everyone involved.”
The tournament attracted over 1,200 attendees, including over 500 youth players who came from across LA and Orange Counties, including Santa Ana, Norwalk, San Fernando Valley, Bell Gardens, and South Los Angeles. One winning team even came as far as Fresno. LAFC Academy coaches and scouts were in attendance, and LAFC’s Supporters showed up to cheer on finalists, distribute trophies and spread LAFC spirit with their chants.
“This event represents LAFC’s commitment to unite our city through the world’s game,” said Nikki Mark, Academy Executive Director. “Our relationship with the community is a priority for us, and this event was one way for LAFC to connect and collaborate with the youth soccer community in our region.”
LAFC Academy’s tournament comes at the heels of numerous exciting announcements made by the Academy over the last two weeks, including the expansion of its youth development program beyond the existing U-12 team to include two new age groups (U-13 and U-14) for the 2017-18 Academy season. A new six-member coaching staff for LAFC Academy was also announced.