VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC-TV) -- Dick Whelan sure does get a kick out of soccer. But, he's more than a big fan -- he's the man who keeps the North American Sand Soccer Championships kicking and getting bigger and better every year.
"Yeah it has turned into that, exactly." Dick said.
Little did he know that a simple idea he and other soccer parents had more than 20 years ago, would turn into an event that's now drawing a thousand teams from all over Hampton Roads, the country, and the world.
It's pumped more than a million dollars into the Hampton Roads economy. But Dick is most proud of the fact that this tournament has become a family tradition and he especially loves what it means to the youngest soccer players in the 757.
PHOTOS: Sand soccer salute!
"Self confidence, something to look forward to, a chance to set some goals for themselves, a chance to develop their skills," Dick said.
He's helped to put Hampton Roads on the sand soccer map. An example of that -- some of the best players in the world -- like those on Team FC Barcelona from Spain -- showed up early to help run a camp for local children to improve their skills.
That's one way Dick knows he has -- and continues to -- make his mark.
"It's pretty cool," he said. "Giving these kids a chance to grow and to be adult young men and women here who have good character behind them through sport."
The North American Sand Soccer Championships are this weekend at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. For more information, click here.