The Kanawha Valley soon will be a hub for youth football, with the epicenter at the Shawnee Sports Complex.
The new complex in Institute will be home to both state and regional youth football tournaments, as announced Tuesday afternoon. Shawnee first will host the first West Virginia Youth Football Championship on Nov. 23-25.
In 2019, the stakes get higher, as the complex will be a regional site for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Youth Tournament.
The state tournament will be open to all youth football teams with players age 7-14 in West Virginia. The deadline to register is Nov. 9 and teams can go to to register and get more information.
West Virginia teams will compete this year in Richmond, Virginia, at the Hall of Fame tournament’s Mid-Atlantic Regional. The action comes much closer to home in 2019.
After attending Hall of Fame events like the Hall of Fame Academy and 7v7 event, Elijah Vellaithambi, the Hall of Fame Youth Program state director, realized the Shawnee complex was the caliber of site that could host a major event.
“This event is the Little League World Series of youth football and represents big-time postseason youth football,” he said. “It is the gold standard of youth football.”
As many as 48 teams from the region will compete in Institute in 2019 across seven age and weight groups, ultimately sending seven teams to Canton, Ohio, to participate in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Championships.
The Kanawha Valley has been a stronghold of youth football for a long time. It’s the birthplace of Rand native Randy Moss, who was inducted this past summer into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“Given its proud tradition and top football talent, we are thrilled to select Shawnee Sports Complex … as a regional site in 2019 and will look to bring more events to Shawnee, given the world-class facilities,” said Marc Boldurian, Pro Football Hall of Fame Championship director.
The state and regional football tournaments are two more major events scheduled for the Shawnee Complex, which will host three national youth soccer tournaments in 2019 and 2020.
“Before the first game is played, we have achieved unbelievable success,” Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said, “The benefit of the new Shawnee Sports Complex to the citizens of Kanawha County is huge and has been grossly underestimated to date.”