Robby Casey keeps a close eye on the weather forecast. As the director of the Westport Invitational Soccer Tournament, he needs to know about the weekend. And he's especially sensitive to the forecast after last year's tournament.
The tournament features nearly 100 teams, with the girls playing Saturday and the boys Sunday. Last year, the boys games never got played after a storm knocked out power to Westport for nearly four days. Downed trees made travel difficult. Staples High School, which hosts the tournament, was shut down.
"What was interesting was we considered and got close to purchasing insurance,'' said Casey, who directs the tournament for the Westport Soccer Association . "We decided against it. The only way we could've collected was if the facility wasn't opened. We had one year where to had to postpone of the days by an hour, but that's about it. Even if we had a big snowstorm, we were assured the lot would be plowed. The only way it could not have been opened was if there was an electrical failure. And that's exactly what happened."
Casey was not immune to the wild weather. Returning home from the event last year, a falling tree clipped his car. "I'm driving home from a volunteer event, and I get a car repair bill for $600,'' Casey said.
Fortunately for Casey, the weekend forecast this time around is much more favorable. Players might have to dodge raindrops but nothing like the calamity they experienced last year. Some girls games scheduled to be played outdoors last year were moved inside because the winds were so fierce and the rain was so heavy.
The tournament features boys and girls teams ages 9 to 18. They play 24 minute games. The younger age groups play indoors. Teams ages 12-and-up play outdoors. Squads from nearly every Main Street Connect community will be playing in the tournament. There are 106 teams registered, including some from New York and Massachusetts.
"The reality is that despite the fact kids play each other during the season, they still like the tournament,'' Casey said. "You sub on the fly, and it's pretty exciting for the kids. The bulk of our teams are from Fairfield County. About 60 percent are from the Southwest District of the Connecticut Junior Soccer Association."
The tournament is the final indoor competition for many teams before the spring outdoor season kicks off in a few weeks.
The tournament benefits the Coleman Brothers Foundation. Keith and Scott Coleman, who grew up playing in the Westport Soccer Association, died Sept. 11, 2001, in the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.
Games begin at 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, and action continues throughout the day. Complete information is available on the WIN website .
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