Soccer tournament set to kickoff this weekend

With eight teams set to compete for this year’s “Borderland Ball Blast” men’s soccer tournament, organizers are starting to get a feel of the tournament’s potential.
The tournament has attracted four teams from the local Borderland League, but more importantly, four out-of-town teams–Dryden Drillers, Horst Lang Falcons (Dryden), last year’s tournament finalists Dryden Heat (formerly known as Peach Valley), and the Kenora Rangers–have decided to make the trip down here to take part in the second-annual tournament.
As well, there also will be a four-team women’s soccer tournament and a slo-pitch one which will have the fields at Westfort and St. Francis bustling with activity this weekend.
“It’s good that we got the tournament started to get the ball rolling,” Olaf Ruppenstein, one of the men’s soccer tournament organizers, said yesterday morning.
Ruppenstein said the tournament was a success last season and should be even bigger and better this year. And while several teams have decided to travel to Fort Frances this weekend, he envisioned the possibility of attracting teams from Thunder Bay and Winnipeg in the future to make the competition even stronger.
The women’s inaugural tournament here will be just a four-team affair, but Suzanne Thomson, one of the organizers, said the key is simply getting the tourney off the ground for its first year.
“It’s always hard to get a tournament started,” said Thomson, who also will be playing this weekend. “But we’re excited Dryden has decided to come down, and hopefully they’ll tell other teams and we’ll be able to keep it going.”
Thomson said one of their ideas is to try to have the dates of the Kenora, Dryden, and Fort tournaments consistent each year in order to allow the teams to make the necessary travel arrangements.
That, she said, also would help attract teams from the surrounding major centres.
Thomson alluded to the success of the men’s tournament in Kenora (which this year attracted 20 teams) as having the potential to be duplicated here in the Fort.
In addition to the soccer tournaments, a pair of alumni games, featuring former Fort High players against current Muskies, will help kickoff the “Borderland Blast” on Thursday.
The women will take to the pitches at St. Francis at 5:30 p.m. followed by the men at 7:15.
The men’s tournament opens with action Friday at 7 p.m. and continues throughout the weekend with the final slated for Sunday afternoon. The women begin action Saturday morning with their final also to be played Sunday.