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Rancho Santa Fe Sports

Beach soccer fest expects to kick up large crowd

OCEANSIDE — Over 300 teams will face off in the annual Beach Soccer Festival at Harbor Beach May 17 and May 18.

Teams play on small sand courts, with multiple games going on simultaneously during the two-day festival.

Beach soccer has a more relaxed, fun tone than traditional soccer.

It is also a high scoring, action packed aerial game.

“It’s similar to soccer, but it’s high scoring and on smaller courts,” Leslee Gaul, Visit Oceanside president, said.

“There’s action no matter what time of day you come, with multiple teams playing. It’s fun to watch the professionals. They keep the ball in the air a lot.”

Dozens of youth teams will compete, some traveling from as far away as Virginia.

There will also be six professional bracket teams, including teams from Portugal and Japan.

The CD Nacional team of Portugal has won the tournament for the past two years, and is playing to defend their first place title and collect the lion’s share of the $10,000 prize purse.

Championship games for all brackets will be held Sunday.

The final playoff game for professional teams will held be at 1 p.m. in the elite field with stadium seating that accommodates 2,000 spectators.

Along with continuous games, there will be music, and food and soccer merchandise venders on the beach.

A limited number of beach campsites are available, in addition to nearby hotels for those staying for the two-day tournament.

Sand soccer is a relatively new sport that began holding professional competitions in Brazil in 1993.

This is the eighth year the Beach Soccer Festival will be held in Oceanside.

LifeThruSports “director of fun” Marc Koehler said the tournament was started in Oceanside by local soccer enthusiasts to bring back the fun of playing the game, which can sometimes get lost for kids when they compete at the tournament level.

“The ball takes a lot of different bounces in the sand,” Koehler said. “A kid cannot be blamed for kicking the ball in the wrong place. Kids love it, we enjoy it. A kid can play a game of soccer and then look for a starfish in the ocean.”

The annual event draws about 10,000 spectators a day, and generates over $2 million in revenues for the city.

The event also contributes to the Soccer Club of Oceanside and San Luis Rey Samoan Youth Choir.

Parents and youth of the two nonprofits volunteer to help run the event, and are compensated with a portion of event proceeds.

“They’re the workforce that makes the event happen,” Koehler said.

To date $100,000 has been donated from the event to help support the two local youth groups.

Games will be played form 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days.

 

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