Special Olympics soccer tournament is Saturday in Belleville

As many as 400 Southern Illinois and St. Louis metropolitan athletes will participate in the Clash of the Borders Special Olympics soccer competition Saturday at Belle Clair Soccer Fields.

The event is from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 2842 Centerville Ave. in Belleville. Each team will play two or three games against opponents from the other state to promote the sport of soccer and spirit.

The Special Olympics Team USA Traditional Soccer team, who will use the tournament to train for this summer’s Special Olympics’ World Games 2015 in Los Angeles, will be on hand. All 11 players of the USA Team are from Illinois. Anthony Cahoon, of Marissa, will lead the squad.

Assistant coach Rich Crothers, of Mascoutahm said, “Soccer is becoming so popular among our athletes because it allows them to share the joys of the competition with their friends, famil, and volunteers while showing off their skills. We need to do more to give them opportunities to explore this beautiful game.”

Crothers will also coach three of his local squads from area Special Olympics sponsor Parents and Teachers of Exceptional Children (PTOEC) in the tournament.

Clash of the Borders will enjoy the support of area college communities. Southern Illinois Edwardsville Lady Cougars will referee all games; and Greenville College will offer soccer training camps throughout the day. Southwestern Illinois College girls’ soccer program will serve as local ambassadors.

The local soccer community also will offer support for the tournament. The Metro East Legacy Soccer Club, based out of the Belle Clair fields, is sending several competitive teams to act as ball girls/boys and will take care of all the field arrangements. During opening ceremonies, the club will present Team USA with gifts to be worn at World Games 2015.

Special Olympics Illinois is a not-for-profit organization that offers year-round sports training and competition in 19 Olympic-style sports for more than 22,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities throughout the state. The regional office will be holding training sessions for volunteers and coaches who wish to support Special Olympics in the future. For more information about this event, Special Olympics Illinois, or ways you can get involved, visit the website at or call the Southern Regional Office at 618-654-6680.