Monday, July 5, 2010

Ghana soccer visit a coup for Decatur

editorial, The Decatur Daily

Decatur enjoyed another coup last week when a youth soccer team from Ghana chose the city as the site of a three-week training session.

Ghana’s under-17 women’s soccer team will train at Jack Allen Recreation Complex from Aug. 7 to Sept. 1.

The team, known as the Black Maidens, will travel 6,500 miles to reach Decatur. The group will include 21 players and 14 coaches. The team, which qualified for the World Cup in 2008, will be training for another World Cup.

Ghana’s choice of Decatur is a major endorsement of our world-class soccer fields. In addition to the favorable publicity, Decatur will enjoy an economic impact of $300,000 from the visit.

Decatur was one of only four sites recommended to the team by a U.S. soccer coach. Lower costs and a climate similar to the Trinidad-Tobago climate where the World Cup takes place put Decatur on top.

Kayla Riggs, special events director for the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau, was instrumental in attracting the team. The bureau’s success should come as no surprise. Under the leadership of President Tami Reist, it has been remarkably successful in attracting major sporting events to the county.

The event also is a reminder that city expenditures can bring major returns. Like Ingalls Harbor, Jack Allen Recreation Complex manages to bring in tourism dollars while improving the quality of life for local residents.

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