Soccer for the masses

by • May 22, 2017 • FeatureComments (0)402

Alaska Airlines Cup is the state’s main event

Rush ‘07 player Makenna Harris  gets the ball past a competitor. This year’s Alaska Airlines Cup is set for June 2-4 in Anchorage. Courtesy Amy dunlap.

Rush ‘07 player Makenna Harris gets the ball past a competitor. This year’s Alaska Airlines Cup is set for June 2-4 in Anchorage. Courtesy Amy dunlap.

It’s that time of year again. Snow has melted (mostly) and fields are clear. The sun stays out longer and the days are warmer. This combination means one thing to soccer enthusiasts across the state: time to compete!
The Alaska Airlines Cup has easily become the premier soccer tournament in Alaska. Each year, thousands of players representing nearly 90 teams descend on Anchorage for three intense days of competition ranging from U9-17 age brackets. They come from all over – Fairbanks, Juneau, Canada and the Kenai Peninsula.
With the addition of the Alaska Airlines College ID Camp, a dozen college coaches from top programs around the country spend their weekend recruiting the best of Alaska’s high school players.
The abundance of players and families in town making their presence in the community is felt every year. Teams boost the local economy with hotel and rental car bookings, and fill restaurants and shops.
“It’s wonderful to have so many teams come to Anchorage for the Alaska Airlines Cup,” said Jack Bonney with Visit Anchorage. “Players, coaches and family members get a taste of Alaska as the summer season hits full stride.”
The tournament began in 1993 as the Ina K Memorial Tournament, but Alaska Airlines began sponsorship in 2010. As part of its sponsorship in the namesake tournament, Alaska Airlines offers 10-percent discounts to travelers coming to Anchorage for the tournament.
“They’ve been very generous in their support and are willing to work with the athletes, college coaches, and visiting refs to get them here,” says tournament director Dan Rufner.
The Alaska Airlines Cup continues to grow steadily. Rufner said he’s hoping more Lower 48 teams will continue to look to the Alaska Airlines Cup both for a competitive tournament as well as a unique reason to experience all Alaska has to offer.

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