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Clash of Champions postponed for year

By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
July 10, 2003
Time and distance has silenced the soccer pitches at the Northeast Park Soccer Complex this weekend.
Because of a lack of teams the third playing of the Clash of Champions tournament, which brings together the first and second place soccer teams from the state games of Mississippi, Alabama and North Carolina, will not be played this year.
"Alabama and North Carolina just held their state games two weeks ago," said Kelley Futch of the State Games of Mississippi on Wednesday. "That was a quick turnaround for those teams to try to make it to another tournament. In North Carolina, a lot of the teams were going to have to travel about 10 hours."
The tri-state soccer tournament brings together teams from under-12, under-14, under-16 and under-19 age groups to vie for the intrastate championship.
Mississippi filled out its spots in each of the four age groups for the tournament, but Alabama and North Carolina couldn't get enough teams to come to the Queen City this year. Each state has two spots in each age bracket.
"The point of the Clash of Champions was to increase the participation in soccer in the other states," Futch said. "Mississippi soccer is doing nothing but growing. In fact, we only have under-12, under-14, under-16 and under-19 age groups because the other states don't have under-8 and under-10 age groups in their state games like we have."
Soccer players from Mississippi will have another chance to show their stuff on the soccer field this year.
Many teams from the state will be traveling to Hartford, Conn., to take part in the soccer competition at the State Games of America on Aug. 8-10.
The nationwide competition brings in athletes and teams from 40 states.
"We have a lot of teams going to the State Games of America," Futch said. "Also, the staff here will be going to the games."
The Clash of Champions is still planned to be held next year. The tournament will rotate back to Alabama in 2004.
Futch said she hasn't talked to the people in charge of the games in Alabama about what to do to ensure the games are played next year, but she does have an idea to make it easier for the teams to be able to compete in the future.
"I'm going to talk with the people in Alabama and see if we can make the tournament later next year," Futch said.
Even though the Clash of Champions will take a hiatus this year, Futch said not having the tournament is not a disappointment.
"A lot of teams just didn't have enough notice," Futch said. "We've had too good a year for Mississippi soccer to call anything a disappointment."

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