MISSOULA — Just weeks after Fort Missoula Regional Park opened last summer, 64 club soccer teams came together for the inaugural Intermountain Champions Cup.
That tournament was a long time coming for Missoula.
Twenty-two years before FMRP opened, Missoulians voted to pass the open space bond around Fort Missoula, which is where the complex now sits.
"It'd been the goal of the Missoula Strikers to put on this kind of a tournament, but we just never had enough facilities to do it," tournament director Charlie Vandam said. "We knew that once the bond was passed to allow for the development of the field, the Missoula Strikers were just anxious to put together a youth tournament to use the facility.
"It's also a way to pay back to the community, the investment that they made in the complex."
Vandam and the Missoula Strikers are continuing their new tradition this weekend with the second Intermountain Champions Cup.
Sixty-nine teams will be in town this weekend for the three-day tournament, which equates to roughly 2,800 players and spectators.
Teams from three states — Idaho, Montana and Washington — as well as teams from Canada will be playing in the tournament.
Montana cities represented in the field are Missoula, Helena, Bozeman, Billings, Kalispell, Whitefish and Great Falls.
"For me, it's been a long road to get to this point," Vandam said, who's been involved with the Missoula Strikers since the early 1990s.
"... It's great to see us put on a quality event at a quality complex. It's one of the best in the Northwest. I'm just excited to watch soccer and be a part of bringing all these kids from different places to play against our local kids."
Matches begin at 8 a.m. on all three days of the tournament. The event schedule can be found at www.missoulastrikers.com/tournament.
Parking and admission into the tournament is free.