Youngsters develop sports and leadership skills through expanding array of public and private programs
Youth sports in Oxford is expanding rapidly –– serving youngsters from throughout the region and creating a new economic benefit for the Oxford community.
The Mississippi Flood Futbal Club (MFFC), a private sports complex in development south of Oxford, is holding its first 3v3 soccer tournament on August 10, with players registered from throughout Mississippi and regional competitors from as far away as Birmingham, Memphis and Jackson.
The Oxford Park Commission will host a three-day mixed doubles tournament using both Oxford and Ole Miss courts August 15-18.
“We expect about 300 teams from all over for this event,” said Rob Boyd, executive director of the park commission.
FNC Park, one of the top facilities of its kind in the South, has three baseball tournaments and is planning a soccer tournament that will attract players from all over North Mississippi.
“We expect 50 to 60 teams for each tournament. When you recognize that a team is composed of 12 youngsters and that means perhaps 15 additional adults, each team represents 25-30 people visiting our community,” said Brad Freeman, executive director of FNC Park.
“All of these activites are great for our kids, and people coming into the community is a great economic benefit. Visitors stay in our hotels, visit our restaurants, shop at Wal-Mart and Kroger, all of which boosts our economy,” said Chan Patel who, with his father, has developed the Holiday Inn Express, two Hampton Inns, and is constructing a Town Place Suites by Marriot located across from the Oxford Convention Center.
MFFC’s facility is under construction and is expected to be completed in stages this fall.
The complex will cost about $1.5 million and cover 73 acres, with fields to support a range of sports. In addition to fields for football, soccer and baseball, the facility will have a pavilion and several concession stands.
“Our 3v3 tournament is sort of a warm up tournament for the players. The opening tournament, complete with fireworks, will be held in November with players expected to participate from at least three states, “ said Dr. Michael Perry, Oxford dentist and developer of the complex.
“These competitions are a win-win for young people and the economy of Oxford,” Dr. Perry said.
“Our initial goal of bringing the most competitive players in North Mississippi appears to be working, “ Dr.Perry said. “We will have five international soccer fields, practice areas and lighting by September. Baseball will kick off in February.”
Dr. Perry said his group was particularly proud that fields will be lighted with LED lighting, which reduces electrical costs by 80 percent. “The MFFC is believed to be the first LED lighted complex of its kind in the region,” he said.
In addition to organized competitions, the Lafayette Dolphins, a local peewee football program involving about 125 youngsters, now plays at MFFC. The group formerly played at fields that were removed when Oxford constructed a facility for Oxford University Transit, the local bus service.
Something Southern’s Mark Huelse, president of the Downtown Council, said, “It (bringing kids and families to town) is fabulous. When people come to Oxford, they always visit the Square.
“We all know what seven home football games do for our community. Now we need to work on the other 45 weekends,” he said, citing sports tournaments as a good example of the economic benefit to the community. –– Jim Roberts, HottyToddy.com staff writer
Email Jim Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org