OCEANSIDE — Oceanside is revving up its beachfront fun factor with the Beach Soccer Championships scheduled for the weekend of Cinco de Mayo.
The Beach Soccer Championships will host amateur youth and coed games, as well as professional domestic and international players.
A beer garden, live Mariachi bands, food, music, and retail vendors will sidle the nonstop action.
Owned and operated by Frank Zimmerman Sr., and operated and marketed by Frankie Zimmerman Jr., the annual event, now its fifth year,has been ranked among the top three beach soccer club events in the world.
Boasting the elite of the elites, the competitive tournament will showcase American and international players from Mexico, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Netherlands, UAE, Brazil, Colombia, Canada, Peru, Senegal, Japan, Tahiti and Switzerland.
Over 250 teams will compete on 28 beachfront courts. Spectators will enjoy a ringside view from a stadium built specifically for the showdown.
Touting its nickname, BeSoCha (Beach Soccer Championships), the father and son duo describe the weekend as the “perfect summer kick-off beach party,” filled with healthy lifestyle components.
“Merging the beach culture with the soccer community is the perfect concoction for the cool energy and healthy lifestyle components that surround the BeSoCha lifestyle,” they said.
Senior admits that while many Americans have never heard of beach soccer, the game’s extremely popular in South America. Born on the beaches of Brazil, it’s one of the fastest growing sports of the past decade.
Challenging in ways that moving on sand will challenge any athlete, beach soccer doubles as a cross-training tool for grass soccer players.
“Beach soccer’s a great cross training tool,” Zimmerman Sr. said. “Because moving on sand is unpredictably variable and you can’t roll the ball on the sand the way you do on grass, it’s played primarily in the air. Athletes are forced to use different playing techniques and skill sets. Juggling air balls doesn’t bother beach soccer players the way it challenges those playing on grass.”
Brimming with nonstop hustle, the sand-floor game is everything but boring.
“Everyone loves the excitement of watching the beach soccer pros fly through the air with their overhead kicks,” he continued.
The high school, college and youth-group soccer coach described the weekend as an idea that stemmed from “an effort to add fun into this crazy youth-sports world that we live in.”
“Statistics show that 3.3 million kids quit youth soccer before the age of 12,” he said. “They burn out from the grind of the same ole’, same ole. Programmed into a ton of structured activity to gain a competitive edge, kids lose the reason why we play – to have fun.”
High school soccer is not immune to this sport fatigue, he said.
“Those stats carry through high school,” Zimmerman Sr. said. “Soccer coaches and players live in a world of practice and tournaments. We drive in, we drive out.”
Enter beach soccer.
“Beach soccer is a true, lifestyle get-away from that daily grind,” he continued. “Beach soccer injects fun into a sport that allows kids to play in an unstructured environment.”
“Too often are we caught up in being the best at all costs,” added the younger Zimmerman. “I hope that by bringing soccer to the beach for one weekend out of the year, families and athletes will all remember to enjoy the game.”
The crowd-pleasing sports party will also greatly — and positively — impact the city of Oceanside. Last year’s financial effect injected $2.2 million into the community. Hotel occupancy rose to 90 percent. The city “happily” complied by providing shuttles from designated locations to cart spectators directly to the beach to avoid traffic and parking congestion.
The BeSoCha spectacle also serves as a fundraiser for the Oceanside Breakers and the Youth Group of Mission San Luis Rey. Last year the Zimmermans awarded more than $15,000 to ensure that these organizations learn how to “use soccer to impact their life and help prepare them for their future.”
Father and son both expressed their excitement and somewhat surprise at the event’s “explosive” growth.
“We’ve transplanted a piece of Brazil into the sands of Oceanside, added the incredible fun factor and created a party on the beach,” Zimmerman Sr. said. “The Beach Soccer Championships are new, fun, and relatable to the games of Southern Cal. We never expected the event to explode into this huge monster, jam-packed with soccer players, their families and locals who love watching the pros play.”
The Zimmerman Jr. added that he loves “showing off my favorite California harbor.”
While the championship’s “exponential growth,” may outgrow the Oceanside Harbor, the father and son team will “never leave Oceanside.” They will simply add a second weekend.
“In a nutshell, beach soccer’s a fun way to play a game that prepares kids for their future,” Zimmerman Sr. said.
The Beach Soccer Championships will be held in Oceanside May 3 to May 5, at North Pacific Street. For more information, visit https://beachsoccerusa.org/
Lucia Viti is a seasoned journalist, photojournalist and published author who covers all regions in feature and news reporting. Sporting a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from the University of West Virginia, she spent 20 years in New York in the fields of Public Relations, Advertising and Medical Communications. Her love for outdoor sports landed her in Carlsbad in 1999 where she segued into news and feature reporting. Her photographs are sold locally in artisan shops throughout the County.