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Golden Goal Provides Unique Tournament Experience

Week-Long Event Appeals to Coaches and Players Alike

May 12, 2009
By Nick Williams

Can you imagine your team running out together in your favorite kits, in your team colors and regalia, and having your names announced in front of throngs of cheering fans in an opening ceremony mimicking a mini-Olympics? Well, welcome to Golden Goal’s opening ceremonies.

Golden Goal is a one-of-a-kind youth soccer tournament sports park designed at its inception to provide an unparalleled experience.

There are a lot of different types of tournament out there: small-sided, adult, beach soccer, showcase events and your regular old weekend jaunt. But Golden Goal is for those looking for a different option, something totally unique.

Golden Goal

Located in New York’s Adirondack mountain region near Lake George, Golden Goal is a week-long event where teams live and dine in an Olympic style village atmosphere. During the week, they participate in training sessions, team-building activities and, of course, games.

Teams pay a flat fee and then all they have to do is show up. Golden Goal handles lodging, food, and scheduling and there’s no need for transportation since everything is located in one complex.

“There isn’t anything quite like it,” said Dominic Popolizio, a Sports Marketing Agent for United Sports Training Center, which partnered with Golden Goal in October of 2008. “It’s a very unique, one-of-a-kind experience. It allows a team to get away, play teams from around the country as well as international ones and it gives them the chance to really bond together. And you don’t have worry about hotels, meals, transportation.

“Teams come and have a team-building week, face great competition, get ready for fall season or the next upcoming season, and it’s a great family vacation area.”

Golden Goal provides coaches and players six nights of lodging in dormitory-style buildings, similar to an Olympic village, with 24-hour security, plus three meals a day, a weekly guest appearance, a spectacular fireworks display and extravagant opening and closing ceremonies.

All teams, coaches, guest referees and families participate together in the opening ceremonies in what Popolizio says is every kid’s favorite part of the week.

Golden Goal

“The teams are all there and everybody gets marched in, which these 11- to 15-year-old boys and girls love,” he said. “You get to run right into the stadium, with your banner, all wearing jerseys. And with the parents and everyone all cheering, everyone’s name is announced. Skydivers come in and they bring the game ball, the Golden Goal flag, the American flag. There’s a ton of music, a big barbeque – it’s a great experience. A lot of people will not have this experience in their lifetime.”

While the thrill of participating in such an elaborate event is every kid’s dream, the coaches, while surely appreciating the event, have a different reason for signing their teams up for Golden Goal. For most of them it’s the team-building experience.

“All the coaches mention the team-building exercises and the team-building coach we have at the park, Gary Pritchard,” said Popolizio of the author best known for his work, 105 Great Stories. “He talks about team-building and working together as a team and how an individual can either help or hurt a team by being an individual or by not being a team player. Every coach I talk to, when I mention Golden Goal, always mentions that we have Gary.”

All teams that attend Golden Goal are guaranteed eight games – six pool games and a semifinal and final regardless of finish – and the competition level, while high, isn’t only made for top teams. Popolizio said any competitive team can sign up and they’ll be matched up with teams from other areas with the same skill set.

“We’re not looking at just the top few teams in the country, we’re looking at competitive teams in every state," he said. "You get eight games whether you’re playing for first place, third place or fifth. The amount of teams that come, we have a great idea of how to match them up. We’ll make sure that they’re common opponents.”

Golden Goal
When there are no games or specific activities scheduled, parents can sign out their kids and explore the Adirondack mountain region around Lake George or Saratoga Springs.

The Village of Lake George has beach activities, restaurants, shops and site-seeing tours of picturesque Lake George. Saratoga Springs, just 20 minutes away, is home to Saratoga racetrack, Saratoga Springs Arts Center and upscale shopping. Plus the best part is, you’re there for the entire week, so there’s plenty of time.

“Teams talk about going away for the weekend,” said Popolizio. “Someone in the Northeast would say, ‘Let’s go down to Baltimore for a long weekend for a tournament.’ Then they spend three days there. It almost takes you that long to get there because of all the cities you go through, you have about four games in three days, no practice time and you’re crammed in hotels the whole time.

“Golden Goal is something that will get everyone away, all week long, and we take care of all the rest for them. I would recommend it to any soccer coach.”

For more information about Golden Goal, visit their website at www.goldengoalsoccer.com. And if you’re interested in havinging your tournament or soccer complex profiled, please email us at newsdesk@soccernewengland.com.






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