KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A major youth soccer tournament is kicking off in Knoxville. More than 200 teams from across the country will be in town. They'll be filling up hotel rooms and bringing in millions of dollars in revenue.
The crowds have already arrived to get registered. Opening ceremonies will take place Tuesday at Thompson Boling Arena.
"We worked our butts off, every week, every day, every second, in practice. We're going for the championship and that's all we're focused on," said Leah Feato, 11, on one of the teams that flew in all the way from Hawaii.
Chosen soccer teams from across the country compete in the tournament that's held once every two years.
With coaches and player families along for the matches, the event brings more than 9,000 people to town. Teams moved through the registration process Sunday and Monday, in the end getting their group photo taken.
Along with playing some good matches in Knoxville, the groups are also looking to have fun.
"Everyone keeps talking about Dollywood. We're looking at Dollywood, fishing, and whitewater rafting," said Leah's coach, Lawrence Hamilton, about their plans as tourists.
The tournament comes after a major push to make Knoxville a venue for the competition. Organizer Dianne Stratton was the steering force behind the idea.
"I am beyond excited, and I hope the community is excited. I love soccer and Knoxville. It's so enormously exciting for me that both these things will be together this week," Stratton said.
Over 14,000 hotel rooms have been booked for the event.
Games will be played on five local soccer fields.
The championship will be held Sunday at Regal stadium.