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Sand Soccer | Under the Sun Sports to get a Suntan

Have you ever watched a game of beach/sand soccer?  Well hang onto your sun visor!  Three different people are credited with bringing the sport to the States.  The game has both youth and adult divisions and may be played by amateurs as well as professionals.

Peter Mellor, a professional goalkeeper, was introduced to beach soccer on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil while visiting there in the 80’s.  In 1991 he decided to set up the first beach soccer tournament in Clearwater, Florida.  His feeling was that this might help improve the skills of youth soccer players and it has turned into a fun family sport.  To this day the tournament aptly named, Soccer on the Beach, attracts many participants yearly.  This tournament has since expanded to a series of three tournaments, one in each of the summer months.  The first in the series of tournaments was held this year at Daytona Beach from June 12th-14th.  The next in the series is at the original venue in Clearwater, Florida from July 10th-12th.  The last in the summer series is to be held August 7th-9th on Ft Myers Beach on the Gulf Coast of south Florida. 

In May of 1994, after retiring from the Navy, artist Dick Whalen fathered the sport in Virginia Beach, Virginia creating the North American Sand Soccer Championships.  The first game saw 26 teams and 200 participants battle it out on the sand in the Beach Soccer Kickout.  By 2009 the NASSC has 10,000 participants with teams from all over the US and the world in what is billed as the “Grand Prix” of international beach soccer events.  This year the event occupied 18 full city blocks of prime Virginia Beach waterfront!  The Hampton Roads Soccer Council has hosted this event since 1994 to help support their 75 acre Soccer Complex.

During the 1994 FIFA World Cup in Los Angeles, a beach soccer exposition was presented thus introducing it to Californians.  In August of 1994, Jeff Benbow proceeded to create the Longboard Classic Sand Soccer Tournament in Huntington Beach.  The original Southern California sand soccer tournament is held near the Huntington Beach Pier from August 22 through the 23rd this year.  Santa Cruz in Northern California is the site for a tournament held on the beach in front of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk every year.  A family sport on a family beach.

With the explosion of interest in the sport it was felt a governing body would be required setting a professional standard in order to help the sport grow successfully.  On September 26, 2008 another triumvirate made up of Jeff Sundy, Jeff Thurman and John Travis formed a 501(c)3 non-profit in California known as the United States Beach Soccer Federation.  Membership is growing with new leagues forming in many states and countries.  Florida and California are the two states with the greatest following but with beaches everywhere, whether ocean or lake, this sport can only grow. 

Just another way to have ‘fun in the sun’ for the whole family!


Want to find out about more under the sun sports?

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