Billy Mordka grew up playing soccer. In 2013, the 35-year-old was looking for a volunteer opportunity and found himself at the Tucson Association of Realtors Shootout.
This year marks the 28th annual shootout, presented by the Fort Lowell Rush Soccer Club, and Mordka’s sixth year working with the event.
The shootout begins at 6 p.m. Friday with the opening ceremonies, parade of teams and soccer Olympics at Kino Stadium.
The three-day event will include 282 teams; 163 from out of town. Organizers say the event brings $4 million into the Tucson economy each year; teams are expected to use 2,200 hotel room nights during their stays.
This year’s shootout will feature 575 games spread over 35 fields at Kino Sports Complex and Golf Links and Udall parks.
“I was raised in Tucson, so (the parade is) a tradition I wanted to make sure kept going. I didn’t want it to go away like other events,” said Mordka, this year’s tournament chairman. “All the hours of volunteer work throughout the year, from everybody, it all is worth it as soon as you see the kids smile through the parade.”
Gina Brandt, the tournament’s media and sponsor liaison, said the parade is her favorite part of the tournament. The tournament was founded in part to give players a chance to know each other through Olympic-style events like the parade, Brandt said.
“It’s a singularly unique presentation of tournament that anyone knows of — nobody else does this.” Brandt said. “And in the 28 years we’ve done this, nobody else has even tried to copy because it really takes a tremendous amount of work to do this event. But it’s worth it.”
Action starts Saturday morning.
Mordka had a tip for Tucsonans this weekend: “The city gets crowded, and the best way to make a good impression for our city is to be nice and welcoming to the visitors. It’s a great way to promote our city. Not only families and players, but just in general.”