The 13th annual Augusta Arsenal Soccer Club Spring Shootout Soccer Tournament starts at 8 a.m. today at Fort Gordon's Barton Field.
An estimated 10,000 people will descend on Augusta over the next two weekends to participate in the Spring Shootout. The Shootout has grown to become the third largest event held in Augusta behind the Masters Tournament and The Augusta Futurity.
"This is an example of how this sport is growing in the Augusta area," Tammy Stout of the Augusta Sports Council said.
The Shootout will field 171 teams from five states during the next two weekends. This weekend, girls of all ages and boys ages 15-19 will compete. Next weekend, boys ages 10-14 will converge on the 22 soccer fields at Fort Gordon.
The Augusta area will be represented by 15 teams from Aiken to Evans. Nine Augusta Arsenal squads, five Columbia County Patriots teams and one Aiken Flames team will take the field today.
The Shootout has grown from 16 teams 13 years ago. Organizers split the tournament into two weekends for the first time this year to ease the pressure on themselves and to allow participants to find adequate lodging.
"This is about as much as Augusta can handle," said Rick Marshall, Augusta Arsenal president. "We've filled most of the hotels from Thomson to Aiken with this tournament."
All 171 teams are guaranteed at least three games. The games will run until 4 p.m. today and resume Sunday at 8 a.m. with the championship matches set for 1 p.m.