Penticton’s Pacific Western Brewery soccer tournament usually marks the first sunburn for Erin Finlay.
Finlay, who has participated in the May long weekend futebol festival the last five years, couldn’t recall a year it hasn’t been sunny at King’s Park. However, for the 50th edition also sponsored by Soccer Express, Finlay may be watching from the sidelines due to an ankle injury. What she likes about playing in it is its competitiveness. “It’s been one of the better tournaments,” said Finlay. “More competition and it’s a good way to start the season.” Aside from enjoying the beer gardens, which will be there once again, among Finlay’s fondest memories is watching Estrelle de Chile FC from Vancouver. “It’s an exciting team to watch,” she said of the defending champs. “They have camaraderie, cheers that bring specatators and the atmosphere is fun. Every game is like they won the World Cup.” Estrelle de Chile FC will return once again to try and win their fourth championship.Claudio Ramirez, co-chair for Estrelle de Chile FC, said with them being a competitive team their goal is to do their best to win every tournament and league they participate in. “With this tournament in particular, and having won it three straight years, we are obviously more focused as we know everyone will be gunning for us. We are very proud to be three-time defending champs,” said Ramirez, who won’t be able to help his team on the pitch due to a knee injury. Estrelle de Chile FC, which is based in Vancouver, has returned because they enjoy Penticton and the tournament. Ramirez said they have a fantastic time and fond memories. “It wasn’t even a question of whether we’d be back or not. When Charlie invited us back in December, there was zero hesitation,” he said. “The soccer has been competitive, the city is second to none and the way the organizing club has treated us for the past three years has been amazing not to mention the facilities the club has at its disposal that makes it easy to get guys geared up.” While soccer fanatics can enjoy watching the defending champs, there will also be another 29 teams, the most ever. Charlie Goeckel, who organizes the tournament along with Penticton Soccer Club president Dale Anderson and Phil Rogers, asked who would have thought the tournament would last so long. He then added, “I wouldn’t let it die.” He stepped away for three years then returned. Of the 30 teams, three are local and it’s just the way Goeckel likes it. Because local teams play each other in city league, the idea is for them to see other teams play. When action kicks off on Saturday, there will be 49 games played including 20 on the first day. Goeckel said the competition will be fierce in the men’s and women’s division. “Competition is always good,” said Goeckel, who got the idea to create this tournament while traveling in Europe in the early ‘60s. The Pacific Western Brewery Soccer tournament is designed for fun. There are no cash prizes, but the champions will leave with Adidas uniforms. Teams will also receive trophies and gifts and top players will be recognized.