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Pro-am Beach Soccer Santa Cruz

This past weekend marked the 10th annual Santa Cruz Beach Soccer Open presented by Senda Athletics. We set up our tent by the check-in and results booths and marked out the area for our juggling competition.  The juggling competition produced some great scores despite most players struggling to juggle barefoot in the sand. Even those players who said they are capable of successfully completing as many as 1000 juggles on grass with cleats found it difficult to reach a century of juggles in the sand. The record-holder using the mini-ball completed 156 juggles, the Size 5 champion reached 300 juggles, and someone managed to keep the giant 3 foot ball in the air for 17 touches!!

This year’s tournament included over 170 teams, topping last year’s total thanks in large part due to the addition of the micro division for six and seven year-olds. There were many champions from last year that returned to defend their titles and countless teams new to the competition that were looking for their first taste of victory!

Thanks to all of those who came out to the Pro-am this year. And to those who missed out, don’t worry because there’s always next year! Our next Beach Soccer Pro-am promises to be another great day of soccer, friends, and fun. Join us!

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Futbol + Volleyball: Futevôlei, A Brazilian Passion

Futevôlei is a blend of soccer and volleyball and (according to legend) was invented in Rio de Janeiro. In lieu of using your hands or arms like in volleyball, the players’ chest and head are turned into the primary surfaces of play. Futevôlei is a 2 vs 2 game played on a regulation sized volleyball space. Most public courts in Rio de Janeiro are in the sand along the beach. All of the courts in Rio come with picturesque backdrops worthy of sitting back and relaxing to take in the view. But if the vistas aren’t enough for you, don’t worry, because you will be amazed by the grace and skill of the futevôlei jogadores.

IMG_2001-2Futevôlei is played up to 18 points. The serve switches sides after one team has made 6 serves; sides rotate after both teams have completed their set of services. Got it?  It is like volleyball…well kind of, but not really. Futevôlei is the pinnacle of soccer-related sports. You need to have impeccable control of the ball with your feet, thighs, shoulders, head, and most importantly, your chest! Much in the same way a volleyball player “sets” the ball with their hands, futevôlei jogadores can do the same with millimeter precision using their chests, heads, thighs, shoulders, and even a foot stretched behind their back.

IMG_1892-2Futevôlei is not a game where you can expect instant success. It’s extremely difficult. Even if you have played soccer your entire life and can juggle a ball 100 times with ease, futevôlei is still a game with game-specific techniques and skills that need to be honed over months or years. I hope that I am not deterring you from playing; I’m just giving you some words of warning so that you’re not too hard on yourself when you start training.  The first thing that is strange for 11 vs 11 soccer players is the way in which one uses their chest. Usually, a soccer player is taught to trap the ball with their chest. Coaches have probably taught you how to bring a ball under control by concaving your chest to cushion the ball and place it in front of your feet on the ground. Futevôlei demands the complete opposite. You need to be able to bend at the knees, lean back and pop out your chest in a manner that accurately propels the ball to your teammate. It will take your brain a little while to rewire your instincts and then a whole lot longer to perfect the timing, force, and accuracy of the pass. Practice till your chest turns the glowing red color of a Brazilian sunset.

Using your head is a lot easier to adapt to as you just need to head the ball upwards instead of downwards.  However, the foot pass is a little different from the technique you learned in soccer. The best control is with the inside of your foot, but not your instep.  Have you seen hacky-sackers? Well that is the technique you want to emulate. You lean back a little, and in a smooth upward motion, stroke through the middle of the ball. The thigh is pretty easy to adapt to also. Some players throw their foot out instead of tucking it under them.  You are basically smoothly swinging through the ball and trying to loft it to your teammate with accuracy to their chest or head.  The gameplay is identical to volleyball with 3 touches, alternating between players before the ball is returned. It is similar to bump-set-spike in volleyball. However there is no stigma attached to returning the ball on the first or second touch if you find your opponent poorly positioned. Players cannot touch the ball more than once, without the ball touching another player.  The net does not reset your touch and unlike volleyball or tennis, if the ball touches the net on the serve it is still in play!  Serves are done with as little spin as possible so that the wind can more effectively mess with the ball’s flightpath. Perhaps counterintuitively, spinning the ball on the serve actually makes it easier for your opponent to predict its path.

IMG_1893Well, there you have it. Now you know the basics of futevôlei. Next time you are in Copacabana, Ipanema, Botofogo, or Flamengo, cruise down to the water on a beautiful day and keep an eye out for the old men wearing speedos (sungas). They will be dark as leather and rippling with muscle from years of playing on the sunny beaches of Brazil. Take some time to watch, get a feel for the game, and learn from the masters. Then, when you’re feeling ready, go out there and join in on this classic of Brazilian sport culture.

Movement to Send the US Power Wheelchair Soccer Team to the White House

 

In 2011 the United States Power Soccer team won its second consecutive World Cup title, making them the only U.S. soccer team ever to win back-to-back World Cups. Despite this momentous achievement, the team has not yet been invited to the White House to be honored by President Obama. I truly believe that it is time for the White House to take the initiative in celebrating the dedication and achievements of athletes of all abilities representing the U.S.A.

This April, the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team will visit the White House on their way to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The goal of this campaign is to seek an invitation for the U.S. Power Soccer Team to join the U.S. Men’s National Team in their visit. This is a unique opportunity for president Obama to honor both teams achievements together, on the world stage?

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The United States won the first Power Soccer World Cup in Tokyo in 2007, defeating Belgium, England, Denmark, Japan and Portugal before beating France in a penalty shoot-out in the finals to win the cup. The team then made history when it defended its title in Paris four years later, defeating England 3-0 in the final becoming the first American soccer team to defend their title as world champions.

“Each year, winning teams in major sports in the U.S. spend time with the President; it is an honor athletes who reach the highest of milestones enjoy,” said Chris Finn, Head Coach of the U.S. team. “Considering we are the only team in U.S. history to win TWO world cups, I think it is prudent for our team to visit with the President and introduce him to our growing global sport.”

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Power Soccer is the fastest growing sport for power wheelchair users. Players use these power wheelchairs to pass, defend, and spin-kick a large 13-inch soccer ball in a skilled and challenging game similar to traditional soccer. Teams of four athletes compete on a regulation-sized basketball court, under rules established by the governing body of power soccer, the Federation Internationale de Powerchair Football Association (FIFPA). This sport provides an unparalleled opportunity for everyone to be able to experience the magic of soccer.

As believer in sports as a tool to bring people together, I know that with the help of the White House The U.S. Power Soccer Team can inspire millions with their accomplishments, and that President Obama has an incredible opportunity to honor this inspiring group of players.

To achieve this goal, USPSA and Senda Athletics are launching a Change.org campaign to gather 1,000 signatures of support, generate awareness for this cause and send the two-time defending World Cup champions to the White House.

For those of you on Twitter, we have created a web page that allows you to send a tweet to the people at the White House and US Soccer that can make this happen.

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Skillz and Drillz Video of the Month: The Zidane ‘Pull Back Flick’

 

 

 

We are starting a monthly showcase of a videos, covering in detail different types of soccer movements from our partner SkillzAndDrillz, which has close to 225.000 views at YouTube.

This is a great way for players of all ages to learn new cool and useful skills, and impress their friends, coaches and not at least their opponents on the field with.
The videos have fantastic step-by-step instructions making it easy and visual for viewers to learn.

We hope you will enjoy our monthly SkillzAndDrillz video, starting with none less than one of the best players in the history, Zinedine Zidane’s “Pull Back Flick”

Visit Skillz and Drillz and stay tuned for his videos and updates! 

This month’s video: