North American Sand Soccer Championships U.S. Open Concludes
The North American Sand Soccer Championships conclude with Team Pugg crowned 2016 US Open Cup champions for the second consecutive year. An estimated 1,100 teams gathered in Virginia Beach for a weekend of beach soccer action with age groups beginning at eight years old along with sixteen pro teams highlighting the adult groups.
Beach Soccer News: With more than 12,000 players, around 1,100 teams and 64 pitches hosting games simultaneously from sunrise to sunset, what you could breath in Virginia Beach was beach soccer in its purest form. Just Beach Soccer. And this has been happening for the last 23 years.
Joan Cusco, Beach Soccer Worldwide’s Executive vice-president, was one of the many attendees to this beach soccer festival, explaining: “It is an event that every single member in the beach soccer family around the world should experience at least once in their lives. Coming down to Virginia and seeing the atmosphere, how people interact with each other, is stunning – it gives you goosebumps.”
Everybody felt a part of it. Maybe a little one, but an essential indispensable part. Everybody, every single one of the 12,000 participants was a winner. Boys and girls, from eight years old onwards, in 86 different divisions, brought the best they had onto the sand, showing that beach soccer is already part of their life. And this makes them precisely that, an essential part of beach soccer.
The history books will show the 2016 US Open Cup belonged to Team Pugg but that was just a little part of what the entire North American Sand Soccer Championships meant. The three-days event proved another major step forward for beach soccer in the United States, way beyond the professional division.
Together with the 1100 teams, the game was also played off the pitch, where hordes of supporters took also a very relevant role, spanning the generations, and helping make this year’s competition what it has become.
Volunteers, sponsors, advertisers, vendors and numerous members of the US military all contributed to the wider feelgood factor at the event, along with throngs of enthusiastic fans, with divisions ranging from boys and girls under-8s through to men’s over 30s and women’s over 40s.
The family-centered event was signified by spectators of all ages enjoying the beachside atmosphere and sunshine vibe at an event that not only brought home the strengths of sport to the Virginia Beach community but also kept the sport of beach soccer growing in the region and the wider country.
Maintaining momentum in Oceanfront is obviously key and, on that theme, the dates for next year’s event have already been confirmed.
Taking place from June 9th to June 11th, 2017 has big shoes to fill but organizer Dick Whalen is confident the competition will continue to grow from its relatively humble beginnings. “With our long and highly successful history, we justifiably consider that NASSC is leading the way in the USA, and hopefully will keep bringing this huge championship on for may years”, Whelan concludes.
Key Stats of the North American Sand Soccer Championships
- Total beach soccer teams: around 1,100+ across 27 countries
- 12,000 players
- More tan 250 people involved in the organization, most of them volunteers.
- Amount of sponsors: 142
- Number of matches: 2,000 across two-and-a-half days
- Location size: 25 city blocks of oceanfront across 1.5 miles and 64 sand fields
- U.S. Open: Sixteen Pro teams competing
- Equipment numbers: 250 beach soccer balls were used along with 7,500 yards of field lining, 128 sets of goals and 800 plastic cones
Source: Beach Soccer Worldwide