2011 US Youth Soccer Region I Championships Start Thursday, June 30th in Lancaster, Continuing Through Tuesday, July 5th, with 264 Soccer Teams from 12 States Competing in 450 Matches at Three Area Venues

Lancaster, Pennsylvania - For the first time, Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer, which has worked throughout Eastern Pennsylvania to promote, foster and perpetuate the game of soccer to the region's youth since 1972, is the host for the 2011 US Youth Soccer Region Championships, which begin Thursday, June 30th and continue through Tuesday, July 5th, at three playing venues in the Lancaster area.

A total of 450 soccer matches are scheduled with 264 teams over the course of five days. Admission to all games at all venues is free of charge. A full schedule of games is available at http://tiny.cc/se2cw, or at http://lancastersoccer2011.com.

Opening ceremonies are scheduled for Thursday, June 30th at Hersheypark Stadium (Hershey, PA) beginning at 4 p.m.

Preliminary matches begin on Friday, July 1st and continue through Sunday, July 3rd, at East Petersburg Elementary School Soccer Complex (5700 Lemon Street, East Petersburg), at the Hempfield High School Complex (340 Mumma Drive, Landisville) and at Classics Soccer Park (the headquarters venue, 1461 Lancaster Road, Manheim).

Semi-final matches begin at 8 a.m. on Monday, July 4th at Hempfield High School Complex and at Classics Soccer Park. Championship finals matches will be played on Tuesday, July 5th beginning at 8 a.m., at Classics Soccer Park.

Regional winners from the under-14 through under-19 boys and girls brackets earn a berth to the upcoming 2011 US Youth Soccer National

The 2011 US Youth Soccer Region I Championships in Lancaster features the top 264 boys and girls US Youth Soccer teams from Region I, which includes the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.

Featuring top teams in the under-12-year-old (U12) through the under-19-year-old (U19) age groups from 15 state associations including the host Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer (which is sending 16 teams to Lancaster), the 2011 US Youth Soccer Region I Championships is expected to attract over 4,500 players, coaches, teams and tournament officials, as well as their families and friends.

According to Chris Branscome, Chief Executive Officer of Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer and co-chair of the Lancaster Organizing Committee, "over 10,000 room nights have been booked into Lancaster-area hotels for the 2011 US Youth Soccer Region I Championships, which should bring over $12 million in economic benefits to Lancaster and the region."

This is the first time in Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer's nearly 40 years of existence that the US Youth Soccer Region I Championships will be held within its own borders, and the event will return to Lancaster again next summer.

It took nearly five years for the Lancaster organizing committee and Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer to win the bid for their hometown region, guided by the efforts of Jim Kuntz, a successful Lancaster real estate professional with Prudential Homesale Services, is the co-chair of the local organizing committee.

"My dear friend Charlotte [Moran] and I worked on this for probably five years to bring this to Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer," said Kuntz. "If you start from day one it was the dream, and then the dream went into conception, and then that turned into a discussion with Bob McDade (President of Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer) and Chris Branscome. We thought it would be a great opportunity so we worked on the bid.

Even though Kuntz, McDade and Branscome agreed that they wanted to host the regional tournament in Eastern Pennsylvania, they still needed a partner venue or community, which they found in the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention and Visitors Bureau in Lancaster. They worked together to design a proposal, which they presented to the US Youth Soccer Region I Council in Fort Worth, Texas on why this region would be the best candidate to host the tournament.

US Youth Soccer awarded Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer and the City of Lancaster the 2011 and 2012 US Youth Soccer Region I Championships in March, 2010.

"For the Lancaster community in general, it's between $12 to15 million in tourist dollars coming in," said Kuntz. "With regards to soccer interest, Lancaster County is already a big soccer community. What this tournament will do for the local Lancaster community is that it will bring top notch soccer to the community and will let a lot of folks locally get a good look at top flight in soccer in the region."

About Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer:
Since 1972, Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer has worked throughout Eastern Pennsylvania to promote, foster and perpetuate the game of soccer to the region's youth. Through competitions, educational programs, workshops and coaching clinics, Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer impacts the lives of more than 130,000 youth soccer players from ages five to 19. Additional information is available at http://www.epysa.org.

About the United States Youth Soccer Association (US Youth Soccer):
US Youth Soccer - "The Game for ALL Kids!r" is the largest youth sports organization in the country and largest member of the United States Soccer Federation, the governing body of soccer in the United States. US Youth Soccer registers more than 3 million players annually, ages 5 to 19, and over 900,000 administrators, coaches and volunteers in 55 member State Associations. US Youth Soccer programs provide a fun, safe and healthy environment for players at every level of the game. For more information, visit www.USYouthSoccer.org.

[Media Request: When referring to the United States Youth Soccer Association, the largest youth sports organization in the United States, please refer to the association only as US Youth Soccer, and never as USYS or USYSA. We appreciate your cooperation.]

Media Contacts
Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer:
Jim DeLorenzo, Jim DeLorenzo Public Relations
Cellphone: 215-266-5943
E-mail: jim@jhdenterprises.com

US Youth Soccer:
Mike Anderson, US Youth Soccer Communications
Cellphone: 972-213-5272
E-mail: manderson@usyouthsoccer.org