COLUMBIA — The Show-Me State Games 3-on-3 Soccer tournament was host to more than 1,000 competitors Saturday at Hickman High School. However, it was a group of girls in the Under-10 bracket that truly encompassed the meaning of the games.
In its 4th year of 3-on-3 competition, coach Jeff Ayers' T. Arcobasso's/AFA Crew 1, from St. Charles, looked to continue its success and fair play in the Show-Me State Games.
“You want to come out of the competition with a championship, but you want to still have your integrity left at the end,” explained Ayers.
Integrity is exactly what Ayers’ team came away with in last year’s 3-on-3 soccer competition. In his team’s 2nd game of the tournament last year, it stood unopposed on the field due to a scheduling change that its opponent didn’t receive in time. Like any other 8- and 9-year-old kids, once they heard the news of the forfeit, they wanted to go get ice cream and relax on the hot and sunny day.
About a half-hour later Ayers was approached by officials and presented with the option to take the forfeit or to reschedule and play the game at a later time.
“When they came to me with option to play at a later time, I went straight to the girls and asked them what they wanted to do.” Said Ayers.
“They were hesitant at first, but they decided that playing the game was the right thing to do.”
The officials let girls digest their ice cream and afterward they headed straight to the field to play a game which they had assumed to have already won. The team risked not advancing to the medal round of the competition if they lost the game. The match was close throughout and ended with a last minute goal by Riley Hayes of T. Arcobasso’s/AFA Crew 1, to give them a 5-4 victory.
“It felt much better to earn the victory than to win by forfeit,” said Hayes.
Although the team's act of sportsmanship did not translate into a 3-on-3 soccer championship, it finished in 3rd place and left its coach content with their performance.
“We come to the Show-Me Games to play, and I’m just very proud of these girls for what they did, still today, it was just an awesome thing.”
T. Arcobasso’s/AFA Crew 1 finished Saturday’s competition by winning both of its games and will play once more today in hopes of advancing to the championship game at 3:30 p.m., later that day.