Sand Soccer at Oceanfront celebrating 25 years
Thousands of beach soccer enthusiasts, young and not so young, are streaming into the Virginia Beach resort from around the U.S. and several countries, as the North American Sand Soccer Championships celebrates its 25th “Silver Anniversary” festival June 7-10.
Soccer News: Since its 1994 inception, the huge charity event has cumulatively attracted nearly 19,000 athletes packing the Virginia Beach shoreline during the 3-day extravaganzas, with an additional 200,000 families, fans and amazed spectators observing the sand-blasting action in this rapidly expanding global sport.
Competition is 5 v 5 on sixty sand fields stretched over 25 seaside blocks.
The high endurance sport is much like ice hockey or lacrosse, with frequent on-the-fly substitutions.
Should things become intense, over-eager athletes are simply invited to take a cooling dip in the Atlantic Ocean before resuming play.
The Ferguson Company is supporting the huge charity festival as its “Title Sponsor” in a multi-year partnership, teaming with over a hundred corporate and individual and firms in 2018.
A thousand teams of excited players, from 8 years of age through seniors, have competed annually since NASSC’s inception in 1994.
Many of the more seasoned veterans will be watching their grandkids in action, beginning with a Friday evening free “Kid’s Clinic” for Under-13 youths and younger with professional pro mentors sponsored by Operation Smile. A festival favorite, the Clinic, will be graced by Cecili Weber, Miss Virginia 2017 who will also be on site throughout the competition, and then followed immediately by the first professional match of the OPEN at 9 PM.
The capstone of beach competition will occur in a beach stadium erected at 24th Street in the 16-team men’s pro/am “U.S. OPEN” which has attracted perhaps its strongest US and international teams thus far including:
- Antioquia, Colombia
- Beach Soccer Zeeland, Netherlands
- Costa Rica Natl BSC
- Florida BSC, Florida
- GoBeachSoccer, California
- Great Lakes, Michigan
- HRSC Elite, Virginia
- Maryzilians, Maryland
- New England FC, Mass PA Azzurri, Pennsylvania
- Santa Cruz BSC, California
- Syracuse, New York
- R/W/B Select, CA Tidewater
- Captains, Virginia
- Toronto, Canada
- VB Alliance, Virginia
Although not formally in the U.S OPEN, four women’s teams will be in Stadium action in an HRSC pilot effort to gauge the potential for a future international WOMEN’s OPEN.
Global soccer power “FC Barcelona” won the OPEN crown in 2017. This year’s slate includes many players from the USA National Team, competing as Team R/W/B Select. Also in the hunt is the local Hampton Roads “Elite” – the only 3-time U.S. OPEN winner, and GoBeachSoccer, U.S. OPEN 2017 Finalist, who recently won May’s Oceanside, California’s Western OPEN.
Joan Cusco, Executive Director of “Beach Soccer Worldwide” observed firsthand the “North American Sand Soccer Championships” in 2016. Having traveled internationally organizing professional beach soccer, he was extremely impressed by what he saw in Virginia Beach! As he gazed north and south along the Boardwalk, Cusco remarked “NASSC is an event every single member of the beach soccer family must see at least once in their lives. Witnessing the atmosphere, and how people react with each other, is stunning!”
NASSC is routinely used by the USA National Beach Soccer program to identify players for the National Team, competing internationally. A USA National Team tryout was held by USSF during the ’16 NASSC festival and several US OPEN players were selected to the USA National pool.
NASSC 2018 anticipates over 1,000 teams, including nearly 11,000 youth/adult players, plus 100,000 DAILY weekend visitors/spectators; total demographic approximately 200,000; 20 states and several countries; NASSC has hosted over 180,000 players since inception in 1994 and enjoys a rate of returning players of 93%. The average number of prior participation is 5.3 per player.
Related Article: 2018 North American Sand Soccer Championships