Sportscore Two played to a big crowd this weekend for the Puma Champions Cup College Showcase. The 13 Sports Authority took the pitch, where Rockford shined under the lights in front of hundreds of young players.
"It's one of the best tournaments in the area, if not the region."
Rain or shine, the Puma Cup brought rave reviews for the Rockford area's hospitality, including from a tournament record 19 Canadian teams.
"Facilities are first class," says Richmond Hills (Ontario) coach Colin Francis. "The turf fields, grass fields. Great experience for the boys, we loved it out here."
"Talent was fantastic, getting to play teams from other countries and provinces is fantastic," said Richmond Hills coach Antonio Ferazzoli. "The level of ability of some of these players is unreal. We were blessed and fortunate to be part of this tournament."
"We hope to be back again next year."
Positive feedback wasn't specific to teams north of the border. In-state soccer officials are eager to come back to the Forest City, too.
"We were here last year, a lot has happened since then, the buildings, it's the mecca, it'll be the mecca of soccer going forward. I'm excited about it, we are excited about it as a state," says Illinois youth soccer director of Olympic development Caulbert Smith.
"They go out of their way to tell us how much they love the facility, seeing the new building going up as well," says Puma Cup tournament director Frank Mateus. "That attracts them as well. We have an unbelievable staff. We work extremely hard to make these events happen, not just these weekends but all year round."
Rockford's efforts to attract soccer to the region and develop talent at the youth and club levels are producing results.
"When they see us anywhere else across the country, they still say, I remember going to Rockford and seeing you. That's what we get excited about, it shows us we're doing a great job on the field, as well as off the field."
More than 200 teams, more than 300 games. The Puma Cup continues to grow, with the Stateline serving as a capable and successful host for soccer. Rockford stays busy next weekend, welcoming more than 500 teams for an 8-19-year old tournament for both genders.