South Charlotte

Landing soccer event was key win

Rock Hill scored a major victory for the city, the state and the southeast when it recently was named host for youth soccer's biggest event: the 2012 National Youth Soccer National Championships.

The championships are for under-14 through under-19 girls' and boys' divisions and will feature some of the nation's best players.

The announcement of the six-day event scheduled for July 24-29 comes on the heels of one of the United States' biggest moments in soccer during the women's World Cup.

The tournament will be held at Manchester Meadows in Rock Hill.

The 70-acre Manchester Meadows is just 5 years old and features eight lighted full-length fields. It is within walking distance of hotels, restaurants and shopping in the Manchester Village area off East Mt. Gallant Road.

There will be 60 teams, expected to bring at least $3 million to the local economy.

"It is a natural fit for us, being so close to the Charlotte Douglass Airport, Interstates 77 and 485 and with all of the hotels in south Charlotte, Rock Hill and the surrounding communities," said Bob Brantley, president of South Carolina Youth Soccer.

"We have Winthrop in the area, where the teams can practice, and the Manchester Meadows facility is really state-of-the-art. Without that facility, we would not have been in the running," said Brantley.

The tournaments will be televised on Fox's soccer channel.

"For some of the smaller colleges and D-II schools with smaller budgets, this is the best - and sometimes only place - they will go to see the best talent in the country," Brantley said.

The National Championships have been deeply rooted in Rock Hill.

Aside from the Discoveries, the Rock Hill area has two other teams eligible to make the field of 60. Palmetto United consists of players from Fort Mill, Tega Cay and Indian Land, and the Inter Catawba Futbol Club is made up of players from Clover and Lake Wylie.

The South Charlotte Soccer Association could also field teams in the tournament.

Brantley, along with Discoveries President Niel Melborn and three other committee members, worked for the past two years to attract the event.