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Archive for June 30, 2007

June 30, 2007 — The future of the Futures Nationals

We ruminated a few days ago about the possible effects that the inaugural Regional Rumble could have on the long-term outlook of the National Futures Tournament.

Of course, the obvious constraint on an expanded NFT (in which up to 80 teams could be involved) is the fact you’re working off exactly two water-based pitches.

However, a new turf stadium at Virginia Wesleyan College, adding to Old Dominion’s Foreman Field and/or its possible new hockey-specific stadium could mean that the NFT could be split between Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

Also, if the United States women can make the Olympic Games and get a bump-up in USOC funding and sponsorship, a third turf somewhere on the grounds of the National Training Center is not outside the realm of possibility. The ultimate dream is for the soccer stadium at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex — the first soccer-specific stadium in the country — to be repurposed as a field hockey complex with the installation of an FIH-compliant surface.

Of course, if you expand the NFT, you’re also expanding the player selection process. Long-time watchers of the Futures programs would remark on how Pennsylvania would have an even greater chance to dominate the tournament titles than it already does.

I wonder, however, if there is a way to guarantee that every state participating in Futures — from Pennsylvania to South Carolina, from Massachusetts to California — would be represented with at least a full team.

Of course, there are some who may want to see the Rumble U-14 Silver Division selection criteria enacted for Futures — random assignments instead of regional teams. It would enhance the competition, for sure; the 2007 U-14 Rumble race was so close that a single goal might have determined whether a team won the championship or finished as low as fourth.

But will we see that in an expanded NFT? I’m not so sure.

What do you think?