11 May 2018
The North American Sand Soccer Championships turn “Silver”
NASSC celebrate their 25th anniversary, but, how did it all begin?
Dick Whalen is NASSC Tournament Director
Today, as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the NASSC, we also celebrate how all the effort, all the passion, all the belief, and all the hard-work have paid of, with the Virginia Beach event becoming a beach soccer festival praised worldwide. The story of the NASSC is the story of pursuing a dream…. But let me tell you how it all began…
The several conventional club soccer clubs in Virginia Beach seeking to generate funds for a new 75 acre Soccer Complex in Virginia Beach, VA in the early 1990’s literally had “no clue” about what they were getting into! After reviewing existing amateur beach/sand tournaments in Europe, South America, and Scandinavia, those now - “graybeards” knew that, to accomplish their mission, whatever they came up with had to be fast-paced competition for both sexes, geared for most levels of soccer skills, and with a main objective of providing “fun in the sand”. With fingers crossed, and after mailing 10,000 applications, the “North America Sand Soccer Championships” were born in June 1994 when 26 brave youth and adult teams gave the emerging sport a try.
Now in its 25th year, a thousand youth and adult teams will hit the sand June 8-10 to compete in over a thousand matches stretched over 25 seaside fields. Thus far, the huge sports festival has played host to 200,000 athletes, from 8 years of age to grandmas and grandpas both still playing and watching their grandkids attempting those colorful bicycle kicks. What but a few amateur beach events existing in the USA in the ‘90’s, over 60 formal sand events now dot the country’s sports calendars.
In affiliation with BSWW, the Virginia Beach festival is highlighted by it pro/am US OPEN cash division wherein 16 international and USA-based entries compete for in a packed outdoor stadium where spectators both learn the sport and enjoy the competition played at its higher levels. US OPEN teams competing in 2018 include Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Canada, the Netherlands, Spain and the USA.
In Virginia Beach, NASSC is organized as a “charity” fundraiser by the “Hampton Roads Soccer Council”. The City of Virginia of Beach is also a solid proponent of the annual festival which generates up to $9 million dollars in positive economic impact funds. In a recent formal Citywide survey, over 70% indicated they were in the City exclusively for the beach soccer event! In his visit to NASSC, BSWW Executive Vice President Juan Cusco remarked that the horizon- to- horizon Virginia event was something in which every beach/sand soccer family should participate at least once”.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!… and on to the next 25 years!