On the heels of the FIFA World Cup, nearly 200 elite youth soccer teams from around the world, including the Haitian National Women’s Under 17 team, will compete in the Disney Cup International Youth Soccer Tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort, July 12-17.
Clubs featuring boys and girls (ages 9-17) from countries such as Brazil, Great Britain, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Malaysia, the United States and others will be joining the Haitian team in creating the largest field in the tournament’s 12-year history.
More than half of this year’s field comes from outside of the continental United States with Puerto Rico leading the international team count with 18 registered clubs. Canada is next (16), followed by Brazil (11). In all, 18 countries are represented.
“This year’s field is one of the most diverse and largest we’ve had in our tournament’s history,” said the event’s tournament director Mark Luster. “The Disney Cup continues to be a great opportunity for teams from around the world to compete against other top young athletes while also getting to relax and enjoy a vacation at Disney.”
Each team will play at least four games before advancing to a single-elimination tournament format. Championship games in various age divisions from under-9 through under-18 take place July 17.
The Haitian National Women’s Under 17 soccer team, which was devastated by the massive earthquake in Haiti earlier this year, is among the nearly 200 elite youth soccer clubs from across the globe competing in the Disney Cup International youth soccer tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World.
After their coach and family members were killed during the earthquake, and then failing to qualify for the U17 World Cup in Costa Rica, the team returned to their homeland and have struggled to acquire life’s basic necessities (food, water, shelter, etc.) while all but giving up on their dreams of ever playing soccer together again.
Through support from Walt Disney World and members of the US Women’s Under 17 team which helped eliminate them from the Costa Rica event, the Haitian team has reunited and is competing again on a global stage at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney.
Since 1999, the tournament has attracted teams from more than 20 countries giving participants a unique opportunity to compete on the same fields as teams from the English Premier League and Major League Soccer. For instance, Celtic Football Club, Blackburn Football Club, the MLS Chicago Fire, Houston Dynamo, New York Red Bulls and Real Salt Lake have all competed or trained at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.