Decatur Soccer hosts youth 3-on-3 tournament


Decatur Stadium is usually pretty empty on gray, drizzly winter mornings. But on Saturday, Jan. 27, players from all levels of both Bulldog soccer teams were out in numbers, working Decatur’s first ever youth 3-v-3 tournament.

Varsity and JV players coached, refereed, and otherwise facilitated the tournament. Senior Beatrice Rodi, a midfielder on the girls varsity team, worked as a trainer at the event.

“We’ve got some good games going on,” Rodi said. “A lot of these kids know each other, so it’s fun to see them going hard against their friends.”

Each team got a varsity player to coach, including junior Ethan Ryter, who plays on the boys squad. Despite going winless in their four games, Ryter’s “Expresso Geckos” enjoyed the “electric” day on the pitch.

“The key today was just having fun, so I just centered my coaching around that,” he said.

Ryter talks to his team after their final game. Though his team didn’t win their championship, they still enjoyed their time on the field. “The highlight of the day came up with a dance to distract the defenders,” Ryter said.

The idea for this soccer fundraiser came from watching other metro-Atlanta schools’ 3-on-3 tourneys, according to Joey Widener, who coaches girls soccer at Renfroe Middle School. Decatur Soccer decided on a date for the event in November 2017, and since then, Widener and others have organized registration, promoted the event through local clubs, and fleshed out game details, in order to make the tournament a success.

The fundraiser clearly met its participation goals, with over a hundred elementary- and middle-schoolers competing on 32 teams in eight full-fledged tournaments. But for those involved, it also served a more important purpose than just raising money for Decatur’s soccer programs.

“This year we wanted to reach out to the community,” Widener said. “This event lets us build more relationship between [high school] players and younger kids.”

Ryter agrees about the 3-v-3 tournament’s bigger purpose.

“Yeah, it’s a fundraiser,” he said, “but at the same time we’re building the soccer community in Decatur and getting people interested in coming out and supporting the teams.”

Widener and others plan to make this an annual or even semiannual tournament going forward.