American female athletes are having more success than ever before on the international stage and according to sports event planners, they are inspiring the next generation to get in on the act. Foley Sports Tourism (FST) will be hosting a weekend of events set to draw thousands of soccer players and gymnasts to the city to compete.
Publix SuperCup- Girls Weekend
The Publix SuperCup, a partnership between Snap Soccer and Perdido Bay FC, has a history dating back to 2007 when it was known as the Florabama Showcase, explained Tournament Director Nick Cooper. As the event grew over the years it became too large for a single weekend and they opted to split into a girls weekend and a boys weekend. Cooper said the growth is something they are continuing to see for soccer in general, but the key to sustaining that growth is opportunity.
“Ultimately I’d say the number of kids playing soccer overall is growing very fast. It’s becoming a more prominent sport in America and getting more media attention. With the U.S. hosting parts of the 2026 World Cup we feel the numbers are going to keep growing until then,” Cooper said. “It’s very important to give everyone an equal outlet to play. We have hosted a girls weekend for many years at the Publix Supercup and the numbers keep growing.”
This year the SuperCup will be sharing the FST soccer facilities with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The 2020 NAIA Women’s Soccer Champions, Keiser University, will be returning to the FST Championship Stadium where they won the title this past May after their fall season was delayed due to the COVID- 19 pandemic. They will be taking on the University of Mobile on Friday, then William Carey University on Saturday.
Foley Director of Recreation and Sports Tourism David Thompson said FST worked closely with the SuperCup and the college teams to make sure both events could go on concurrently. He said the goal was to give girls the opportunity to learn from seeing high-quality play live.
“Sports bring the opportunity to learn life skills that translate off the field,” Thompson said. “We want these girls to see collegiate teams in action and learn all they can. Whether it’s a specific play, an act of sportsmanship, or even just the passion these athletes bring to every game, there is always more to learn.”
Bounder Beach Bash
While the FST Fields will be full, so will the Foley Event Center as the 10th Annual Bounders Beach Bash comes to town. The competition is put on by the Bama Bounders Gym out of Tuscaloosa. Meet Director Erin Holdefer-Kightlinger said, just like soccer, gymnastics numbers are surging nationwide.
“We have seen an increase in enrollments at local gyms across the country,” Holdefer-Kightliner said. “I think parents want to get their kids involved in activities and we are blessed to have a wonderful sport for boys and girls to get involved in. Sports build character, discipline, and teach kids so many other life lessons. Staying active is important for growing children to help them stay fit, control their hyper tendencies, and to help their strength.”
She said the growth of the sport has also been reflected in the size of the Bounders Beach Bash. Registrations numbers have steadily increased over the last ten years with a minor hiccup last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The competition, open to ages six and up, is expecting as many as 500 competitors this year.
David Thompson said FST is doing all it can to assist in growing not only the event but the sport overall.
“When people come to our events we want them to create memories they can carry with them for a lifetime,” Thompson said. “We want to make sure we do all we can to not only assist planners in putting on a high-quality competition but also help our visitors make memories outside of the gym. Positive experiences are what keep kids engaged with sports and positive experiences are what keep parents willing to keep up with their busy kids. Sports can mold who we become, how we take life’s wins and losses. We want to continue to see growth in sports across the board and positive experiences are how we plan on contributing to that growth.”
All FST events are required to adhere to local, state, and federal COVID-19 guidelines. For more information on Publix SuperCup, Bounders Beach Bash, or any FST events visit our event page.