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Vegas becomes soccer mecca with Players Showcase in town

Reported by: Jerry Brown
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Updated: 3/15/2013 11:15 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNB & MyNews3) -- The largest youth athletic event ever held in Nevada kicks off this weekend in Las Vegas.

The Players College Showcase Soccer Tournament features 530 soccer teams from across the country.

It's a financial windfall for the valley, but as News 3's Jerry Brown reports, it is also a moment of reckoning for potential college athletes.

Tired of the never-ending college basketball "March Madness" hype?

Sick of being hounded to buy into your office's final four bracket pool?

Have you noticed that the weather these days is simply too glorious to be sitting indoors watching an athletic contest?

Pick up a tan this weekend in Las Vegas by watching elite youth athletes from around the country play the world's most popular game. Even Pope Francis I is a diehard fan.

So is local soccer dad and former Los Angeles Raiders' running back Napoleon McCallum and lives in Henderson.

“Soccer's a great sport,” McCallum said. “You know just the coordination, the endurance. It's intuitive, you've got to be creative with the ball and with your teammates and your head's always on a swivel looking for opportunities to score.”

The U.S. Naval Academy all-American is watching his daughter Briana compete.

Briana plays for Players Soccer Club, the college showcase tournament sponsor.

Like most of the girls on the under-18 team, she's already secured a college athletic scholarship.

For some of the younger athletes, this tournament is crunch time as more than 500 college coaches will be watching the almost 10,000 young athletes competing on fields across the valley this weekend.

"We want to go to tournaments where the calibre of player is very high,the competition is good and it helps us to identify our prospective student athletes early on," said Michele Nagamine, the head women's soccer coach at the University of Hawaii. "The lure of a scholarship doubtlessly contributes to this tournament's explosive growth.

It's the largest college showcase tournament in the nation.

“It's a great event for Las Vegas and you know it's a great opportunity for these young kids to be seen by great colleges,” says McCallum

For increasing numbers of college coaches, Las Vegas is becoming a soccer mecca for gauging talent

Michele Nagamine says that most college coaches want to go to places where it's easy to get to and cost-effective with a location that has a good international airport, where the flight are readily available and affordable.

"Lots of hotel rooms at good prices all of those things really contribute to how we select tournaments," she said.

She forgot to mention a favorable climate. Conditions should be perfect through the tournament's conclusion on St. Patrick's day

“I love the game. I wish I would have learned it a lot earlier in life,” McCallum said.

It's never too late.

-- Jerry Brown, News 3
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