By Joel Hall
The Lovejoy Soccer Complex will be the site of the 2009 Georgia Games Soccer Tournament.
The tournament is one of more than 40 different events in the 19th annual Georgia Games, which will take place over the course of the summer at various locations throughout metro Atlanta. Events in this year's Georgia Games also include archery, tae kwon do, judo, cycling, tennis, golf, fencing, squash, billiards and boxing.
The soccer tournament will take place Saturday, at the complex, located at 1935 McDonough Road, Hampton, from 8 a.m., to 2 p.m.
Erin Hall, public relations director for the Georgia Games, said this will be the second year in a row that the Georgia Games Soccer Tournament has been hosted at the Lovejoy Soccer Complex. She said the complex also once hosted the tournament about 10 years ago.
"We do have a number of people who have been doing it for years, so there is a good mix of skills levels," Hall said. This year, more than a dozen teams in age divisions ranging from youth to adult, will compete for the top spot in their division, she said.
Teams this year include: The Paladins of Alpharetta; Griffin United of Griffin; Kennesaw FC (Futbol Club) Storm of Acworth; Chaos 2.0 of Covington; Rockdale Youth Soccer Association United of Conyers, and the Pink Flamingos of Fayetteville. Teams of seven will play against each other on half soccer fields, as opposed to traditional teams of 11 playing on full fields, according to Hall.
Nigel Grant, soccer coordinator for the Clayton County Parks and Recreation department, said the Lovejoy Soccer Complex already hosts the Atlanta Cup, Kohl's American Cup, and the Region III President's Cup soccer tournaments. He said having the Georgia Games Soccer Tournament at the Lovejoy Soccer Complex brings more attention to the county's facilities.
"The key push for Parks and Recreation is getting more activities into the park itself," Grant said. "It's an ideal tournament facility where the fields are close to each other and they can go from match to match with easy transition. [The tournament] does a great deal in recognizing the fact that we have pristine facilities.
"We have a diverse community here that loves to play soccer," he continued. "In the future, people will know that there is a tournament here that they can participate in."
The soccer tournament will be free and open to the public and concessions will be available for a small fee, according to Grant.
Hall said the Georgia Games were started in the late 1980s to promote fitness education. She said the tournament will bring together amateur athletes, as well as seasoned veterans, for the purpose of promoting active lifestyles.
"It's a fun day to compete," Hall said. "The basic goal of the Georgia Games is to keep the Olympic dream alive. Obesity is all over the nation now. People aren't getting out as much. It's just reminding people that you don't have to be great to get outdoors and be active."
July 10 and 11, Lovejoy Regional Park will host the Georgia Games Softball Tournament. For more information, call (770) 528-3580.