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Rogue Valley Cup takes center stage Saturday

Southern Oregon got its first taste of the Rogue Valley Cup soccer tournament 13 years ago.

Since that time, the quaint little tournament has expanded into one of the most wildly popular and successfully run events in the Northwest.

The 13th annual Rogue Valley Cup begins Saturday and culminates Monday with a handful of championship games.

RV Cup games will be played on 18 different fields at major venues in Medford and Ashland to accommodate the more than 3,000 competitors on nearly 150 different teams. The event features seven different age groups for girls and six for boys. The teams come from Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada and Idaho.

The annual tournament is estimated to pump in just under &

36;3 million to the local economy over the weekend.

— The Southern Oregon Fuego soccer club will continue to take on an active role in this year's Cup.

The Fuego U18 girls premier team is coming off a State Cup championship ' the first Rogue Valley team to win a title in seven years. Fuego will play in a regional tournament in Idaho on June 18.

Both the Fuego girls and men's senior team will volunteer their services over the weekend to help organize and display information about their program for the public.

Fuego will definitely have a presence there, says men's Fuego player Iman Siadat, who is one of several local players that dot the girls and men's rosters. The girls team will set up a table there and they'll be doing some raffling and other things to generate money for their trip to regionals.

Siadat and the Fuego senior men's team will play a season-opening exhibition match Sunday night against Southwestern Oregon College of Coos Bay at 7 p.m. at Ashland High. Rogue Valley Cup teams will get a discount on admission, which is &

36;6 for adults, &

36;3 for children ages 6-12 and is free for kids under 6.

We've been working in conjunction with Mike Dunn and (Rogue Valley Soccer Club President) Gary Osterhage, says Siadat. We can assist in breakdown and set-up when called upon.

It's a great outreach to the community.

The Rogue Valley Cup added Windermere Real Estate as its title sponsor this year. The move, Cup director Mike Dunn believes, will help expand the tournament's notoriety.

What this means for us, Dunn says, is we have a nationally recognized sponsor.

They bring a lot to the table as far as helping with the tournament and man power.

Dunn also has plans to expand the tournament even more next year.

We actually had to rein it in a little this year because we're waiting for some of the hotels to be built, he says. Next year we'd like to add teams from Canada and Mexico to see if we can get an international flavor. We're going to start working on that here in July.

One of the tournament's more popular events, the goalie wars, runs from 8:30-11 p.m. Saturday night at North Medford High.

The competition involves two goalies punting, kicking and throwing the ball at one another on a 30-yard field in four-minute intervals.

The top three goalies in each division win prizes.

Games begin each day at 8 a.m., with Monday's championship contests starting at 10 a.m.

Reach reporter Kevin Goff at 776-4483 or e-mail Rogue Valley Cup takes center stage Saturday"kgoff@mailtribune.com.