The 2014 Mini World Cup is the largest ever.
The Comox Valley United Soccer Club is hosting the event for the third time (it rotates around Vancouver Island annually) this weekend, May 10-11, at Valley View and Isfeld fields.
MWC chair Robin Smart says 105 age U8-U11 youth soccer teams (50 from out-of-town) are taking part, compared to the 95-98 teams the tourney has attracted in the past.
She credits funding from the Sport and Event Attraction Fund pilot project, facilitated by Comox Valley Economic Development and Tourism, in helping to drive registration from out-of-area teams.
Some 1,250 players and coaches, plus their families, will be in the Valley for the MWC, with Smart expecting an influx of between 2,000 and 3,000 visitors.
The event stresses camaraderie over competition, with teams representing one of four geographic areas (Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe) and a large thermometer records which area has the most wins.
The fun begins Friday night from 5-8 p.m. at the Vancouver Island Visitor Centre with a pre-registration party. Snacks and a bouncy castle will be on site.
The games begin around 9:30 a.m. Saturday with the impressive parade of nations (led by bag pipes) around the field set for approximately 12:30 p.m.
When games wrap up, everyone will head to Simms Park at 5 p.m. for a free mini concert put on by JET FM. Four local bands will provide the music, there will be food, face painting and a bouncy castle, and the event is open to the public.
Games will run Sunday from about 9:30 a.m. till 4 p.m. At the soccer fields there will be what organizers call the Mini World Cup Expo with food vendors, soccer merchandise, bouncy castles, games, an interactive Whitecaps tent, and the RCMP will be aiming their radar gun to clock the hardest shots.
As parking will be limited at the fields, Ambassador Shuttle is running a shuttle (for a small donation) from the North Island College Campus parking lot to MWC site daily on both days from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The MWC committee invites one and all to enjoy the weekend activities. Details and updates are online at www.cvusc.org and on Facebook.