VIRGINIA BEACH (WAVY)- Tens of thousands of sand soccer players, from youth to adult, have taken over the oceanfront for the silver anniversary of the North American Sand Soccer Championships. 

This event will utilize 60 fields over 25 blocks, and will include a number of the top professional players in the world for the U.S. Sand Soccer Open. 

“When we started this thing it was purely an attempt to teach a new sport to these soccer hoards that that play year round on grass soccer fields,” said Dick Whalen, who founded this event 25 years ago. “Here we are with nearly 1,000 teams, 2,000 games and going strong.”

The championship, which runs through Sunday, pack nearly ever hotel and restaurant, and bring in millions of dollars to the Virginia Beach economy. “You can’t ignore that we take up 25 blocks of space, you can’t ignore that we bring a couple hundred thousand people down to the oceanfront for the weekend,” said Matt Whalen, the tournament director and Dick Whalen’s son. 

“You can’t ignore that we fill up every hotel and restaurant for two miles. So, this is a big business for the city, and a big business for beach soccer in Hampton Roads.”