VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — An annual soccer institution at the oceanfront for nearly three decades now, the 28th edition of the North American Sand Soccer Championships took place in Virginia Beach over the weekend. It's come a long way from its inception in 1994 when just 26 youth and adult teams competed to now more than 700.
Not only does it bring folks from around the country, it also garners interest from international teams from Brazil, Ecuador, and El Salvador to name a few. According to Director of Operations, Matt Whalen, the event continues to evolve.
"It's a homecoming of sorts for a lot of people so they mark this on their calendar very early in the year. They build their whole schedule around it and we love that. We love being a part of that."
Whalen has served this position for 22 years and has also been a part of the event as a player himself. He says to many, its larger then just a soccer festival, but a beach festival where all are welcome.
"Families come down here and spend a weekend in a hotel room even though they live five miles away. They want to make it a party and we just love the family oriented atmosphere that we provide."
As for where the future of the event is headed, to Whalen, the sky is the limit. "We have a wonderful, vibrant beach soccer community here that continues to grow so we're going to keep growing and growing as far as the beach will take us."