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Sand soccer event to kick off

Soccer players from across the southern United States will ditch the grass and make their way to Huntington Beach to compete in the sand.

More than 300 teams are expected to play in the seventh annual HB Sand Soccer Tournament on Saturday and Sunday.

Teams from Orange and Los Angeles counties, as well as clubs from Bakersfield, Nevada and Arizona, are set to compete to see who can master the difficulties of playing on sand.

Event founder Sean Dick said playing on the uneven surface makes for a more challenging and fun soccer experience.

He remembers a few years ago when a forward from a local Arsenal Football Club girls youth team didn't quite connect her foot with the ball.

"You could see her tracking the ball with her eyes, and everyone knew that if she makes connection with the ball, it was going to be the most beautiful goal you've ever seen," Dick said. "But the ball bounced right in front of her, and she swung and missed the ball by about three feet. She spun around and landed on her rear end. Her coach fell out of his chair laughing."

The games will take place on 39 fields across a one-mile stretch of city and state beach between Huntington and Newland streets, a feat rarely seen between the two agencies.

City-specific events supervisor Chris Cole wrote in an email that to his knowledge, it is the first time the city and state have co-permitted an event on their beaches.

"We have had small running events that start on [the] city beach and cross into [the] state beach and vice versa, but that has been more of a simple notification process amongst agencies," he wrote.

Dick has 30 years of soccer coaching experience, including a stint with Golden West College's club, and serves as the Huntington Beach High School boys soccer coach.

He and his wife, Carolyn, started the tournament in 2008 to promote soccer as well as downtown Huntington Beach businesses.


If You Go

What: HB Sand Soccer Tournament

When: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Where: Huntington Beach city and state beaches, enter at Beach Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway

Cost: Free for spectators

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