AL GENCHI: More Than Two Million Players Have Participated In His Florida Challenge Sports Events
By Maria Sonnenberg // April 29, 2017
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME
ABOVE VIDEO: Al Genchi – 2017 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame
2017 AMATEUR CATEGORY INDUCTEE
SOCCER TOURNEY PIONEER
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – As Al Genchi sees it, soccer is more than just about trying to get that ball past the goalie.
“I tell parents that a small fraction of children who play soccer will end up playing soccer in college and that an even tinier fraction will get to play professionally, but that every child who plays will grow up to be an adult, so it’s more important that we help them become good adults,” said Genchi.
“Helping children develop good sportsmanship and a sense of fair play on the soccer field and in life is our first priority.”
Al Genchi and his wife, Mary Ann, created Florida Challenge Sports Events, also known as Challenge Sports, from decades of volunteering for soccer events.
It all began when their son, David, took up soccer in the early 1980s.
“I was raised on every sport but soccer, but when David started to play, we started coaching and learned as we went,” said the West Melbourne resident.
David’s younger sister, Ann, also became an avid soccer player, and the Genchis continued volunteering.
After attending a couple of tournaments around the state, the couple decided they could do a better job of it, and thus was born the Greater Melbourne Holiday Challenge on Thanksgiving weekend of 1988 as a fundraiser for their soccer club.
It was such a success that the Brevard Fall Challenge, the Palm Bay Spring Challenge, the Melbourne Area Beaches Labor Day Challenge and the Ormond Beach Challenge soon followed.
Since that first Challenge in the late 1980s, more than two million people have participated in Challenge tournaments, some traveling from as far away as Russia, Brazil, Venezuela, the Cayman Islands, Canada and China.
In 2000, Genchi was asked by an Orlando domestic abuse shelter to organize a 3v3 tournament.
After falling in love with the possibilities of managing this concept, Genchi created the 3v3 Challenge Tour, which qualifies teams for the Challenge 3v3 National Championships held during the summer at Walt Disney World Resort’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
In 2002, Genchi left his marketing job with Harris Corporation to devote full time to Challenge Sports. The company organizes 25 annual soccer events in Florida and has 150 affiliates that orchestrate similar events throughout the country.
Part of the goal of Genchi’s Challenge Sports is to give back to the community through projects that collect soccer equipment for needy children around the world.
In 2005, Challenge Sports shipped boxes of soccer shirts and equipment to Louisiana soccer clubs devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
Additionally, the company awards Challenge Tournaments College Scholarships to high school seniors and promotes a tobacco-free, healthy lifestyle for young athletes through its Sports for Life program.
Genchi’s children are grown now, but a new generation is in the wings. Three-year-old granddaughter Abby is still too young to play, but five-year-old Ella has shown promise in soccer.
Should she choose to play in a Challenge tournament, she won’t have to travel far from her St. Augustine home, for Challenge Sports offers a tournament in nearby Palm Coast.
THE 2017 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME Banquet and Induction Ceremony will take place at the Cocoa Beach Country Club on Friday, May 12.
FOR INFORMATION ABOUT the 2017 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME, call 321-615-8111 or e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com
CLICK HERE to see all the members of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Announced, Induction Ceremony Set May 12
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – The Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame selection committee announced Thursday an impressive array of outstanding individuals to be inducted into the 2017 Class of the Hall of Fame.
Dozens of nominees were considered for the 2017 class in four categories including professional sports, college sports, high school sports and amateur sports.
Special honorary recognition will also be bestowed upon individuals and teams that have made significant contributions to sports on the Space Coast.
Space Coast Daily created the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2012, and has so far inducted more than 100 of Brevard County’s most outstanding athletes, coaches and sports personalities.
Serving on the committee are Space Coast Daily President & Publisher Tom Palermo, Vice President Giles Malone, Editor-in-Chief Dr. Jim Palermo, Managing Editor Zach Clark, Assistant Editor Alan Zlotorzynski, local youth sports advocate and promoter Mike Cadore, Friday Night Locker Room Founders Steve Wilson and Orville Susong, former Health First COO Larry Garrison, Cocoa Beach City Manager Jim McKnight and AAU Vice President Rusty Buchanan.
“The list of inductees for 2017 induction include athletes and coaches everybody knows – and some that may have been forgotten with the passing of time,” said Tom Palermo.
INDUCTION GALA & SPORTS AWARDS SET FOR MAY 12
The 2017 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame Induction Banquet and Sports Awards will be held Friday, May 12 at the Cocoa Beach County Club.
The festivities include a meet and greet with the area’s sports royalty, dinner and the induction proceeding which includes compelling video tributes of each of the inductees.
The 2017 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame induction event, and the 2017 High School Breakfast of Champions recognition awards, are sponsored by Community Credit Union, First Choice Medical Group, SOAR, Clear Choice Health Care, BioCellular Therapies, Savings Safari, Spectrum Sports, Friday Night Locker Room, Dr. Sangiv Patel, Dr. Mark Pinsky and Rock Paper Simple..
FOR INFORMATION about the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame, or to make a reservation, e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com or call 321-615-8111.
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Tim Wakefield talks about his induction into the first class of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2017
• PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Joe Kohlbrand, Football; and Cory Philpot, Football
• COLLEGE CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Jason Arnold, Baseball; Michael Coffey, Bowling; Reggie Hannah, Basketball; Paige Kearns, Swimming; and Charles Wilson, Football.
• PREP CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Kristen Gordon, Softball; Ray Herring, Jr. Football; Katie Jackson, Soccer; and Hunter Pingston, Football.
• AMATEUR/REC CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Richard Chapman, Little League; Todd Erickson, Softball; Al Genchi, Youth Soccer; and David Kilgore, Running.
• COACHING CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Skip Arrich, Soccer; Tom Dooley, Baseball; Chuck Keener, Tennis; Steve Lamontagne, Golf; and Mike Soliven, Basketball.
• SPORTS DEVELOPMENT INDUCTEES: Jeff Carr, Eastern Florida State College; and Steve Englehart, Florida Tech.
• LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT INDUCTEES: Linda Anderson, Athletic Director; and Les Stafford, Volunteer
• SPORTS OFFICIALS INDUCTEES: Neely Dunn and Bob Walton.
• SPORTS JOURNALISM INDUCTEES: Hillard Grossman.
• SPORTS AMBASSADOR AWARD INDUCTEE : Gary Gregory, PAL Boxing.
• CHALLENGER AWARDS INDUCTEES: Brevard Special Olympics – Coach Cindy Dropeski, Athlete Chuck Conway and Volunteer Kathi Madden.
• TEAM OF THE YEAR: Cocoa High School 2016 Football State Champions.
• SPECIAL TRIBUTE: Jim Grimes, Basketball, Eastern Florida State College
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE MEMBERS OF THE SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME