The Warrior Soccer Tour, offered by T2 Sporting, presents soccer events in multiple formats, including full-sided soccer, 7v7, 5v5, 4v4, 3v3 and futsal. The tour owner, T2Sporting, has developed a grassroots marketing strategy to work with local sports commissions, VCB or CVB who are looking to bring in new and large annual events.
SDM caught up with event owner Travis Tew to learn about Warrior Soccer’s goals for 2021 and its needs when seeking sites for tournaments.
Sports Destination Management: We previously interviewed you about 3v3 Live, another small-sided soccer event. How does the Warrior Tour Soccer differ?
Travis Tew: It is a different organization altogether. I was with 3v3 Live for a long time and I still do some of that format but wanted to expand to other formats that have also been proven successful.
SDM: What is the difference between 3v3 and other events?
Tew: Depending on the format, you focus on different things, and as a result, the kids learn different parts of the game. 3v3, for example, is near and dear to my heart – it’s a great training tool and teaches kids to play in a triangle format but because it doesn’t have a goalie, it’s just one part of the puzzle. With 5v5, you have a goalie, and your players are moving from a triangle to a diamond shape on the field. It’s a developmental way of learning.
SDM: Are cities interested in hosting just one format?
Tew: No – from my experience, some cities are focusing on the entire tour, offering tournaments in all different formats. We might have a 3v3 or 5v5 one week and come back another with 7v7 or full-sided soccer.
SDM: How does Warrior Soccer work with cities to host events?
Tew: We’re an event management company so we’re flexible. When it comes to hosting, we have a few different models. The most typical way is us working with the sports destination and the city, and sports commission helping out by providing the fields covering the cost of that and putting us in contact with the local soccer clubs.
Another way we do it is working directly with the clubs; many clubs would like to host tournaments, but they really don’t have the resources and they don’t know where to begin. No matter how it’s handled, we can make it so that it is extremely turnkey. Once the word gets out, the out-of-town teams start showing an interest.
One thing I should mention is that we’re interested in multi-year and multi-event contracts. We’d like to bring in three to four annual events in cities that want to continue working with us.
SDM: Do you get a lot of teams from outside the tournament area?
Tew: Most often, there are more teams coming from out of town to play. With full-sided soccer (11v11), we have had more than 50% coming from out of town.
SDM: What are the demographics like – is it mostly youth tournaments?
Tew: You’d be surprised! We have seen some changes in demographics; right now, there are a lot of adults playing 7v7. They love being able to play again and the 7v7 format is easy for them.
SDM: Adult play – really?
Tew: It’s a huge, underserved market that I’d like to capitalize on. In Panama City Beach, we had more than 20 adult teams registered. I think that’s something we’ll be targeting a little more. The 7v7 concept is great for adults because it’s easy to find seven people and it takes up less space, so they don’t have to run as much. Right now, it’s still a minority – maybe five percent of our teams are adults, but you have to remember that soccer kids who love the game will grow up and want to continue to play. This is a way of helping them do that.
SDM: Obviously, you’re working during a pandemic. Has that changed your goals for how many teams you recruit for events?
Tew: Yes – but even in our first year, we hosted an event in Lubbock that got over 500 room nights. We can’t do big tournaments everywhere but there is definitely a demand for the larger events. Right now, we’re thinking if we can get 50 to 60 teams per event the first year, it’s good.
SDM: Has anything else changed?
Tew: Right now, everyone is hurting, and nobody has a lot of extra money. We have lowered our bid fees. We could probably be charging more but I’m not going to use that as an excuse for us not to go to a city. If they can share field costs and share the risks, we can make things happen.
SDM: Is there a demand for tournaments?
Tew: There’s definitely a demand for travel soccer; our schedule is getting busy. There are still places that are shut down so if we can bring a tournament to a location close by there – to Phoenix for the teams in California, for example – then we create an opportunity to have those traveling teams find a place to play.
More teams will be traveling this year than ever before, and you can’t stop the people who want to play. We do have safe policies and protocols and we’re always working on new ideas to keep people safe. One of the great things about small-sided soccer is that there is more social distancing built in. And with some cities just starting to reopen, it’s a great way to bring soccer back.
SDM: Long-term, what is your goal?
Tew: I’d love to turn these tournaments into World Cup-type events. There are already international events for 3v3 and other small-sided formats. We’re building up our U.S. events, and would like to have regional and national championships that kids could work toward. I’m already talking with a guy in Canada. We’re just getting started.
SDM: Why did you choose the Warrior brand?
Tew: We want to teach kids what it means to be a warrior, to understand the warrior philosophy and way of life. Everyone needs to be a warrior right now to get through this.