Calling the Shots: Pilot Cup continues to grow

Daily Pilot

The Daily Pilot Cup can be counted on for fun and friendship, as each year elementary school classmates team up to play soccer.

However, that's not all that's expected of the tournament each year. From year to year, you can count on the participation numbers to always grow.

Last year, there were 191 teams, 27 more than 2008. This year, the Daily Pilot Cup, in its 11th year, is expected to have 201 teams. That's well over 2,500 kids running around and dribbling a soccer ball, while creating lifelong memories as they compete for championships on fields at Costa Mesa High and the Costa Mesa Farm Complex.

The fun starts June 1 and ends June 6.

The final day always seems to be the best. Yet the days in between aren't too shabby, as the party is in full swing.

Kirk McIntosh, the tournament director who helped start this crazy soccer extravaganza, always likes to point out the beautiful colors displayed on the final day during the awards ceremony.

It's like a rainbow, when the kids — wearing those bright-colored Pilot Cup T-shirts — come together sitting in a circle surrounding McIntosh.

The scene, for McIntosh and countless other volunteers, is a great example of what the tournament is all about. The event and the sport help bring the community together.

Of course there are times when that unity is challenged. There have been instances of cheating throughout the years.

There are other controversies too.

This year, the Pilot Cup got off to a rough start with dispute over entry fees. But that was quickly corrected. Every kid pays only $5 to play in the tournament.

At this time of the year, I expect at least one phone call a day about the Pilot Cup. It's a popular tournament and we usually receive questions about it throughout the year.

The tournament takes place the week after Memorial Day Weekend.

As far as expectations go, many usually anticipate another championship being won by the Rea boys' fifth- and sixth-graders.

The Sharks have won eight championships in the tournament's top division.

This year, I don't think it will be as easy.

For one, Rea is not as big of a school than in years past when it comes to enrollment.

In addition, I have a hunch that Carden Hall, a private school in Newport Beach, just might be producing a changing of the guard this year.

You can see why this year's final day could bring about more excitement.

But I digress, as trite as it might sound, the action is not about winning and losing. Players and coaches should keep that in mind throughout the week.

Many of the young players are learning soccer for the first time. It's not too often the kids get to play with their classmates, which makes the tournament special.

It's a big tournament, one that brings the community together.

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