Monday, October 4, 2010

Inspiration: Thirsty Lion 3v3

During the summer of 2009 on the streets of downtown Portland I got my introduction to competitive street soccer. A collaboration between UNEEK Projects and The Thirsty Lion Pub brought a 3v3 street soccer tournament to town. I found out about the tournament online and quickly called up my friends from the University of Oregon. The tournament schedule was poorly organized, but when we did make it on the court it was an unreal experience.
Team Pelada: Tournament Champions
The crowd at the event was always quite large. There were two fields being played on within the closed street block outside the pub. Both courts always had a full ring of spectators lining the plywood boards that were used to construct the walls.

It was once it got dark that the event became a surreal experience. It was a beautiful Saturday night and the regular bar hoppers started filling the streets. A DJ was doing his thing on top of a old army truck adjacent to the fields. Lights beamed down on the courts attracting people to the scene from nearby pubs. The crowd was no longer a single ring around the walls. People poured out of The Thirsty Lion with drinks in hand and their focus directed towards the court. Every time someone pulled off a trick the crowd would erupt in cheers. Many of these people were probably not fans of soccer, but that night they drank and enjoyed the event. Watching the raw talent and creativity on the court was something they had probably never seen before. I had the opportunity to play in the Semi-Final in front of the crowd. It was the must captive crowd I have ever played for.

If I can recreate the atmosphere that I experienced outside Thirsty Lion that night I am confident it can be a successful court/pub. A place where anyone can come watch a different brand of soccer being played by some of the best players in the city. Where a young aspiring player can make a name for themselves by showcasing their skills and love for the game.

The tournament took place again this year at Pioneer Square in July. I was unfortunately unable to attend due to the Timbers U-23s conference playoffs in Kitsap, WA. Once again it was a very successful event for the city of Portland. Here is a video of the 2010 3v3 tournament.

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