Sand flies at the beach soccer tournament

OCEANSIDE — Two continuous days of beach soccer kept the sand flying May 15 and May 16 for the Beach Soccer Championships at Oceanside Harbor beach.
This year 300 teams competed on 29 fields.
Games began at 7 a.m. and continued until 7 p.m. Competitors ranged from 7-year-old youth teams to co-ed adult and professional teams.
Sand soccer is quite different from soccer played on a well-manicured grass field.
The uneven moving sand makes ball movement unpredictable.
“Beach soccer is a whole different game,” John Tulor of San Pedro said. “You have no idea what the ball will do. It’s a very physical game.”
There is “tenaciousness” to the play. It’s an aerial game with more aerobatic plays, Frank Zimmerman, tournament technical director, said.
Head-butting and long kicks wow the crowd and give players more control.
Pro teams from Japan, Miami, Virginia, and Southern California competed for $10,000 in overall prize money.
Eight professional teams played in the two-bracket tournament, with teams facing off in round robin matches the first day, and the top four teams competing the second day to determine the tournament winner.
Last year’s winning team from Senegal was unable to attend this year, making the favored pro team 99 from Santa Cruz.
Local fans cheered on SoCal Beach FC from Oceanside.
In addition to Oceanside’s professional team, 32 Oceanside teams played in youth and co-ed adult matches.
The atmosphere of the two-day tournament is good family fun.
Teams set up shade tents and picnics on the beach.
In the professional arena kids played on the field during game breaks and the tournament mascot led halftime line dancing.
Beach soccer tournaments are held worldwide and usually organized at a local grassroots level.
Beach Soccer USA tournaments are held in Southern California and Florida.
The North American Sand Soccer Championship, which draws 920 teams, is held in Virginia Beach, Va.
The hope is that both organizations can converge and unite on rules, Matt Whalen, North American Sand Soccer Championship organizer, said.
Two more Beach Soccer USA tournaments are scheduled for May 29 to May 30 in Long Beach and July 17 to July 18 in Fort Myers, Fla.
For tournament results see www.beachsoccerusa.org.

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