VIRGINIA BEACH (WAVY) – The rains held off, while the players and the proceeds poured in, as the North American Sand Soccer Championships wrapped up its 25th year at the oceanfront.
Over the course of three days, close to one thousand teams, comprised of 10 players from youth to adult, male, female and co-ed, played close to 2,000 games, taking up over 25 blocks of space at the beach.
“I don’t think we could have asked for any better results across the board,” said Dick Whalen, who founded the tournament with his son Matt 25 years ago.
His event has raised more than $6 million towards the facilites at the Princess Anne Soccer Complex, and is expected to raise upwards of $350,000 more. “The big deal here is that everything we do on this beautiful field, on this beautiful beach, is done purposefully to support those 75 acres in Virginia Beach.
“That’s what it’s about, so we just keep on keepin’ on.”
To cap a near-perfect weekend, the 18th U.S. Open featured maybe its best championship game in the past decade, with the “Maryzillians” from Maryland topping Great Lakes BSC from Michigan 7-5 for the title and the $15,000 grand prize.
“We found out real quickly last year that this is a tough tournament,” said Maryzillians head coach Douglas Riuas, who’s team didn’t even win a single game in last year’s event.
“The guys who put this thing together, they thought of everything to make us feel so welcome here. We’ll keep coming back.”