One of the reasons soccer is the most popular sport in the world is its accessibility. Yes, you need some equipment to play, but at its core, soccer comes down to a ball, some determination, and if you’re lucky, a handful of people to play with, or against. Every professional player from every corner of the globe, from Lionel Messi to Christian Pulisic, started with a ball, a passion for the game, and the desire to get better.

How did they get better? They competed against the best soccer players every opportunity that they could, and they got noticed. They did both by playing in tournaments.

Soccer tournaments are one of, if not the, most accurate measurement of a soccer player’s development. Tournaments take athletes away from their day-to-day routine, and put them in an unfamiliar, disruptive structure; that’s a good thing. Forcing athletes to play outside their comfort zone is a great test of how good they really are, as a player.

Think about it. The fields, the coaches, their teammates, even a player’s off-the-field environment become habitual. Tournaments want to know: are you the same player if you don’t have those comforts of home? Will you stand out and be the best player on the field if you didn’t sleep in your own bed the night before? Besides, there’s no bigger wake-up call to an athlete than squaring off against a player they don’t know. 

Tournaments are a test of focus, commitment, and of how serious an athlete is about playing soccer. Not only that, playing in an unfamiliar environment against unfamiliar opponents is really the best way to find out just how much raw talent a player has.

And finding success in those settings is how you stand out. Tournaments are essential to getting noticed by scouts and coaches from all around the country. It’s no secret that the network of recruiting in youth soccer is far, wide, and deep, so you never know who you’re going to impress, or who that person knows.

These scouts know what they’re looking for, the characteristics they’re after in a player, and playing in a tournament showcases everything they need to know about each individual athlete.

Now, it’s up to the athletes and their coaches to find the tournaments that give them their opportunities. To learn more about Soccer Management Company’s upcoming events and tournaments, check out their region-by-region full schedule here.