Families streamed into Seaside last weekend to celebrate its annual beach soccer tournament.

“I’m down here every summer and I’ve never seen the beach like this before,” Carol Atkinson, a West Virginia native visiting with family from Portland. “It’s like a Florida beach!”

For those unfamiliar, beach soccer is just like soccer played on grass, but it’s faster, on sand fields a third of the size. Age groups for kids age 7 to 19, but there are also adult groups. Winners receive medals, but organizers emphasize fun rather than the competition.

The event brought visitors from Washington, Montana, California, and even Texas to the streets of Seaside.

This is the ninth year the group Soccer in the Sand has organized and hosted the biggest event to date, with 370 teams, according to tournament director Jordan Arias.

The group itself was started 14 years ago by founder and college head soccer coach Chris Lemay in San Diego and has since grown to 16 locations, including a tournament in Australia.

Big name sponsors such as Nike and Domino’s line their apparel. Seaside’s beach soccer extravaganza remains one of the most important and largest tournaments for the organization.

The event gives participants an opportunity to come together for the weekend and play soccer in a relaxed beach atmosphere, Arias said.

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