What “American Idol” has done for singers, Darwin and Anthony Murrillo are trying to do for youth soccer players.
Recognizing there are many talented young people in America, particularly among its growing Latino population, that never get a chance to showcase their soccer skills because their families lack the financial resources needed to join a high-level club, the Murrillo brothers formed Copa Talento.
It’s an organization committed to providing equal access to resources and opportunities, through competitive soccer programs, for the Latino and/or underserved communities.
“We’re not just bringing a soccer tournament, we’re bringing a movement,” Darwin Murrillo said Tuesday evening, when he and his brother announced they are bringing Copa Talento to Chesterfield’s River City Sportsplex during the first week of July 2024. “I think together we can grow something really special here.”
Copa Talento 2024 will include a three-day soccer clinic offering “intensive training” at affordable prices, followed by a showcase tournament that grew from 30 teams in its first year to 111 in 2023.
According to the Murrillos, they had 12 scouts in attendance at last year’s event in Fredericksburg, including representatives from the national teams in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. More than 20 players were selected to train at various developmental levels with those national squads.
“There’s obviously a need in the community if this many teams are signing up,” Darwin added. “These are players who had never been seen before who are being brought into the light.”
Chesterfield’s agreement with Copa Talento comes on the heels of the 2023 El Clasico Centroamericano earlier this summer, when two international clubs – CD Olimpia from Honduras and CD Aguila from El Salvador – played in Chesterfield’s first FIFA-sanctioned friendly before thousands of enthusiastic fans at River City Sportsplex.
On Saturday, Sept. 30, River City Sportsplex also will host the third annual Community Cup, a one-day festival that brings the Richmond region’s first responders and growing multicultural communities together on the soccer field.
“We’re trying to do a better job of reaching everyone in our community,” said Clover Hill District Supervisor Chris Winslow. “We are delighted to have Copa Talento here and expand opportunities for young people in Chesterfield, Richmond and Henrico. That’s our goal with this event and this venue.”
During fiscal year 2023, which ended June 30, Chesterfield hosted 83 sports tourism events that generated $48 million in local economic impact. There are already more than 125 events on the books for fiscal year 2024.
The addition of Copa Talento is a particular boon for the county because it will bring visitors during the week of July 4, which typically has been a slow period for the Richmond region’s hospitality community as residents flock to the beach and mountains for vacation.
“In addition to the programs and opportunities, Darwin and Anthony are also providing immeasurable economic impact to the county that allows us to do what we do here at River City Sportsplex and across Chesterfield,” said J.C. Poma, the county’s director of Sports, Visitation and Entertainment. “We are proud to partner with them and Richmond Region Tourism to bring the game of soccer, here at this beautiful facility, to what I know will be some of the best and most passionate athletes we will see all year.”