CAIRO — In the quiet, rolling hills of Round Top, hundreds of adrenaline-fueled soccer players battled for glory during an annual tournament for older players still ready for prime time.
Forty-three soccer teams and their families converged at Riedlbauer’s Resort on June 9 and 10 for the 37th annual Round Top Soccer Tournament, drawing high-caliber teams from all over the country who don’t show signs of slowing with age.
Teams play dozens of games in the two-day knockout tournament, divided into age-based categories of 30s, 40s and over 48, competing for the status of champion, most valuable player, high scorer and other awards.
“The over-30s just finished a spirited game,” said co-organizer Manny Voss of Round Top, dodging balls flying from the over-48 game underway nearby. “Speedwise, it’s a different game. In their 30s, they’re still in their prime.”
Voss, a former soccer coach at Cairo High School who played in New York City, began running the tournament after playing it 36 years prior. He took over the position from his friend Ernie Passler, who has since passed away and remains the namesake of a sportsmanship award in the tournament.
“It’s a non-sanctioned tournament based on the honor system,” he said. “But we always have really good teams and good referees.”
The Springfield Boys, a 9- to 25-person team from Queens and Brooklyn, has been competing and winning at the tournament for 19 years, said team leader Yves Limage. The team plays together seven days a week.
“It’s a family affair,” Limage said. “We get to play and see people we don’t get to see all year.”
In between rounds, defeated teams commiserated over food and drink, family members mingled and kids played on the inflatable bouncy house and roamed the hiking trail system on the sprawling resort property Sunday afternoon.
The beloved tournament is funded by sponsors, team entrance fees, shirts and trophies from Voss’ business Round Top Knit & Screening. Riedlbauer’s adds concession stands, extra fields, music and entertainment, Voss said.
The event draws around 2,000 people each year, he said.
“The event brings new people who have never been to the Catskills,” said Peter Nussbaumer, who owns the resort with his sister Anita.
Patrick Alvarez, who played pro soccer as a teenager for Pontevedra Football Club in Spain, intently watched his Team Magic teammates from the bench with his brother, Robert, and his dog.
“It’s fun,” Alvarez said of the tournament. “I’m not playing to prove anything, and it’s nice to see different cultures represented.”
Alvarez, now in the 30s team, plays for the Cosmopolitan League in New York City, an amateur league for retired players, he said.
The annual Round Top-based tournament draws teams from all over the state, and teams organized by national origin, representing Columbia, Peru, Germany, Italy, Japan and Albania, among others, Voss said.
The referees are all experienced and certified by the state, said head referee Dominick Coppola, who said he used to referee and play with Voss in high school.
“The players and refs love the event,” Coppola said. “It’s a nice weekend; we bring our families.”