Oceanside CA— On December 10th and 11th four teams from Oceanside will be competing in Clearwater Beach, Florida at the Major Beach Soccer National Championships. This contest is an invitational tournament of champions, as each team must win or be a finalist in a series of beach soccer tournaments held throughout the country, in order to qualify to play in this annual competition. It has been hosted in Florida for the past 7 years and teams have come from California, Seattle, Michigan, Illinois, North and South Carolina, Philadelphia, New York and even internationally, from the Bahamas, to compete for the National Title.
Last year, SoCal Legacy BFC, a team from the heart of Oceanside, made the journey and were the only team representing California in 2015 – just ten players, two coaches and seven family members traveled across the country. After some hard fought battles, they returned as champions, sweeping the competition, punctuated by winning the final 5 to 1. They arrived back in San Diego the following Monday without a bunch of fanfare, television news coverage, press releases or any kind of media hype. These are just some humble kids from Oceanside leaving their mark and having some fun along the way.
Well, as the story goes, news of their championship win spread throughout the various schools that the players attend, and soon several teams emerged with the desire to also compete on the sand at a national level, but not knowing exactly where to start. They all needed some guidance related to navigating the qualification tournaments and advice on how to organize for fundraising and prepare for such an endeavor. “This was the impetus for starting SoCal Beach Soccer Club”, said Steve Citron, President of the club. “There are a lot of traditional grass [soccer] teams out there that want to play beach soccer, but need help getting plugged into the tournament circuit.”
“SoCal Beach Soccer Club formed just over a year ago to help promote and facilitate the sport of beach soccer. It provides a platform for our talented youth players to grow in the sport and in life”, said Cesar Olmedo, Vice-President of the Club. The first major task for the club was to assist the local teams that wanted to compete at the Nationals this year. “We held a lot of meetings and exchanged a ton of e-mails sharing what we had learned from last year during the SoCal Legacy trip, so that the other teams could leverage that experience”, said Citron, who is also the coach of Legacy.
Each team worked very hard at raising the funds needed to pay for their airfare, entry fees, lodging and other expenses. Lasting friendships and memories have been created along the way. Each team has a history, their own story if you will – that gives them their own personality as follows:
Crown Heights & Swap Meet playing in the BU18 division
Crown Heights made their debut winning the Oceanside beach soccer tournament in 2015 and are coached by Francisco Flores. Most, if not all, of these players are Oceanside High School seniors that also play on their school’s varsity soccer team and many play for an elite Oceanside Breakers competitive team. These players hail from the neighborhood of Crown Heights in Oceanside and are supported by the Crown Heights Community Resource Center, which specializes in providing programs and opportunities for our young men and women, to help keep them on the path to success. For more information on Crown Heights see our past stories here: https://www.osidenews.com/2015/05/19/crown-heights-soccer-team-wins-championship/
Swap Meet made their debut winning the Oceanside beach soccer tournament in 2016 and is coached by Sergio Mora, who also coaches at El Camino High School. This team is made up of some life-long friends that to some, seem more like family members than friends. Many of these young men have played soccer for El Camino High School, Vista Storm and Oceanside Breakers and most, if not all are also seniors at El Camino High. Former Oceanside coach Armando Maini coached several players from this team, both on the grass and in the sand, prior to his passing in 2011, but his oldest son Luca carries the torch for his father and seems to be the glue that still holds this team together after all these years. Like Crown Heights, there is a lot of history and stories here, more than what can be covered in this article, but the bottom line is both of these teams are poised for an El Classico match-up in Florida, where we could see two Oceanside teams, both from rival high schools, battle it out on the white sugar sand of Florida’s beaches for the BU18 National Beach Soccer Championship, but before that happens they will have to win against teams from Chicago, New York, and Miami.
Continued on Page Two->->