COLUMBUS – Youth soccer teams from across the State of Nebraska came to Columbus over the weekend, to compete for gold.
Columbus Soccer Club’s Jamie Bennett organized the tournament, and says the turnout for the event was great.
“We’ve got 80 teams from across Nebraska. We’ve got a couple teams from Minnesota, just coming for a fun weekend of soccer,” says Bennett.
Bennett says, after a recent controversy in Omaha, where a team was kicked out of a tournament, he decided to invite the team to play in Columbus. Bennett says he wants to keep the young people involved in soccer, excited about the sport.
“It’s one of those things where I don’t know who’s fault it was, it doesn’t matter. We just thought it’d be a fun thing, cause bottom line is, the girls just want to play soccer, and we thought if we could extend an invitation to them to play, and enjoy soccer, you know everything like that. We just thought it’d be a nice jesture, and glad they accepted, and glad they could come,” says Bennett.
One reported issue surrounding the controversy said the team was kicked out, because an 8-year-old girl, Mili Hernandez, was a boy, due in part to her short hair.
A Grand Island girl, 10-year-old Evie Keller, was playing in the tournament this weekend, and says she has dealt with people calling her a boy, because she has short hair. Keller’s team faced off with Mili’s team on Sunday twice, and she said she was excited to play and meet someone who has gone through what she has.
“I was very excited, because this time I could see too how she felt about it, and I kind of want to talk to her. See how she feels about it too, and now someone might not actually call me a boy,” says Keller.
Keller says the weekend in Columbus has been a lot of fun, and says she was glad her team was able to make it to the finals, where she faced off with Mili’s team a second time.
“I think we’re doing pretty good, and I’m just really excited to verse them again,” says Keller.
Bennett says the tournament has continued to grow every year, and says he looks forward to bringing in more talented squads in the years to come.