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Sandy fun in sun for soccer fanatics

PUBLISHED: 11:50 01 June 2009 | UPDATED: 14:03 03 July 2010

Glorious sunshine boosted the energy of young footballers who descended on Yarmouth over the weekend for England's biggest beach soccer tournament.

Soccer on the Sands, now in its sixth year, attracted more than 1,000 budding footballers from across Norfolk and Suffolk.

Glorious sunshine boosted the energy of young footballers who descended on Yarmouth over the weekend for England's biggest beach soccer tournament.

Soccer on the Sands, now in its sixth year, attracted more than 1,000 budding footballers from across Norfolk and Suffolk.

The popular event saw boys' and girls' teams ranging from U7 to U13 battle for victory on Central Beach.

Adding to the fun factor, the youngsters got a taste of European football, with each of the 128 sides adopting the name of one of the clubs that competed in this season's Champions League - with a handful of lucky teams playing under the name of this year victors, Barcelona. The pitches were also named after famous football venues across Europe.

Adam Watkinson, in charge of Thorpe Rangers U9, aka Inter Milan, said: “I think everybody enjoys it - we've got fantastic weather and great organisation,” he said.

“We've always looked at this tournament as a bit of fun where we can enjoy ourselves.”

Curtis Ella, from Shrublands U13A team said: “We're through to the next round and we've done pretty well. It's been quite easy so far.”

His team, playing as “Roma” on Saturday, enjoyed a winning streak, taking victory in all three of their group matches to get to the knock-out stages.

Run by Norfolk County FA in partnership with Active Norfolk, the event drew hordes of families to the beach to support their youngsters and soak up the sun.

Norfolk FA's Shaun Howes said the weather had been a blessing. “It's the only thing you can't control so we're happy,” he said. “The kids love it - they've played all season on grass so this is a chance for them to relax and enjoy football on a different surface.”

He said thanks had to go to volunteers who took on roles as organisers and referees, and to the Eastern Daily Press and Great Yarmouth Borough Council, who sponsored the event.

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