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Should Your Club Hire a Soccer Tournament Management Company?

Have you ever thought of hiring a professional soccer tournament management company? Perhaps you want to put on a tournament but you don’t know where to start? Your head is full of unanswered questions about fields, sponsors, publicity, scheduling, referees, trophies, hotels, t-shirts, portable bathrooms and weather forecasts. Meanwhile, you have a day job and a family and a lawn that won’t mow itself.

Fortunately, help is at hand in the form of the soccer tournament management company

Susan Smith calls herself a wedding planner for soccer tournaments. The founder of S & E Tournament Sports Management in Norfolk, VA, Smith takes care of the mind-boggling, time-consuming matters that would otherwise sap the energy of many volunteers.

“They hire us not for the actual tournament, but for the countless hours that come before,” says Smith, a tournament volunteer herself for four years before she realized that her organizational skills could make money not only for the event itself, but for her. “These people have full-time jobs. They can't make sixty calls at night.”

Hiring a soccer tournament management company like Smith’s, as well as others such as Mike Libber's Elite Tournaments, which put on a dozen events in 2006, may allow the largely volunteer-oriented youth soccer club to consider expanding their tournament without putting additional strain on its volunteer network. These companies bring many things to the table, which has traditionally been located in a volunteers dining room.

One is efficiency: utilizing their own vast lists of contacts, time-tested registration and schedule making computer programs and extensive experience hiking through mazes of paperwork, they can do everything local organizers must, in far less time.

A good soccer tournament management company will also offer economies of scale. Harnessing the buying power of several events, they can negotiate better prices for such necessities as T-shirts, trophies and food. These savings can be passed on to tournaments in the form of increased profits, as well as to participating teams through lower registration prices.

The best ones also provide on-site help to deal with such emergencies as no show teams, bad weather and referee problems. And they do it all without alienating the local folks.

Hiring a soccer tournament management company does not mean an event has to change its name. Nor does it mean that local moms and dads will not still run the show. But they do it with the backstage assistance of pros, who make money by charging a percentage of the revenue from more sources, including sponsorships.

Smith says that not knowing the local soccer scene is unimportant: "You don't need to know everything. You just have to know the number of fields, and a number of teams they can have. The most difficult thing is judging the size of fields, and the distance from one site to another. A soccer team is a soccer team. We are used to looking at applications and placing teams in divisions."

Local knowledge might not be necessary when working out the schedule, but do heed the lesson learned by one club in Massachusetts, whose outside soccer tournament management company ordered thousands of souvenir patches on which the name of the town was spelled wrong!

Smith takes the trouble to visit the sites of the tournaments she works with, so as to gain first-hand knowledge. She then collects information about nearby hotels and motels, which is included in information sent with acceptance and scheduling packages. She also gives organizers advice on cutting corners without cutting quality. For example, by shortening the fifteen minute period between games, tournaments can be run over two days instead of three.

Events with high national profiles have long benefited from using tournament organizers .WAGS - the Washington Area Girls Soccer event, a perennial favorite with New England teams - is now run by Integrated Sports Management of Columbia, MD. ISM is owned by Louise Waxler, who ran WAGS for 10 years as a volunteer and is currently the President of the NSCAA.

"For years, youth soccer was a small time, community operation," Waxler notes. "These days, parents who take their kids to tournaments like WAGS or the San Diego Surf Cup are looking for scholarships. So the events have to be professionally run. That's reality. It's still soccer, but it's also a business."

Waxler admires all-volunteer tournaments but also sees their limitations:

"You're looking at small, recreational events. All the top tournaments in the country now reimburse their people. They’re run professionally, and that's why they're popular and successful."






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