Four thousand parents and young athletes visited Sahuarita last weekend to play in the third annual Sahuarita Friendlies soccer scrimmages.
The Sahuarita Friendlies are a series of pre-season scrimmages that all teams and clubs from the Pima County Junior Soccer League (PCJSL) are invited to attend. The Friendlies are organized by the Southern Arizona Soccer Club (SASC), Sahuarita’s only area soccer club, which formed in 2012 as a non-profit dedicated to the development of local youth using soccer.
This year’s Friendlies event was open to all 14 clubs of the PCJSL, and games were hosted in parks throughout Sahuarita, including Anza Trail School, Anamax Park, and North Santa Cruz Park.
The scrimmages, in addition to having no charge, also have no brackets, winners, or referees. “The children love it,” says Steve Hulland, Jr., of the Southern Arizona Soccer Club. “We call it ‘sweet soccer.’
The idea of “sweet soccer” started in 2012 when, according to Hulland, one of SASC’s young teams was looking for organized pre-season scrimmages.
“We came up with the idea of inviting certain teams to play for free as a way to promote youth soccer in Pima County and to familiarize people with our great community here in Sahuarita,” he says. “The event was a success and word spread quickly as we expanded from 4 teams in 2012 to 59 teams in 2013.”
The team count jumped again this year: 84 teams visited Sahuarita during the Friendlies scrimmages last weekend.
Everyone in Sahuarita benefits from community events like the Sahuarita Friendlies, says Jeremy Sharpe, vice president of community development at Rancho Sahuarita.
“Not every community has what Rancho Sahuarita has, in terms of community engagement and family-friendly activities. The Sahuarita Friendlies scrimmages are a perfect example of what Rancho Sahuarita has to offer and why it’s different from other communities in the metro area,” he says.
For more information about the Friendlies and the Southern Arizona Soccer Club, visit southernarizonasoccerclub.org.