soccerloco is proud to be the Title Sponsor for the most exciting soccer event in all of Southern California. Beach Soccer Jam is an annual event that will be held this year on May 14th and 15th at Fiesta Island in San Diego’s Mission Bay. Last year’s event was over-flowing with non-stop activities and action; keeping attendees entertained throughout the weekend. Can you think of any soccer event you’ve participated in that included even half of these activities?
- Beach Soccer (of course)
- Youth and Adult Teams
- Adult CA$H Purse Divisions
- Huge Event Village Area (about an acre in overall size)
- Great Food, Exhibitors and Vendor Booths (in the Village)
- Live Professional Entertainment
- Skill Contests
- Family Pickup Games
- Non-Stop Activities
- Multiple Awards Stages
- Beer Garden
- Free and Easy On-site Parking
- Much, much more…
We’ve never seen any event in Southern California with so many activities and non-stop entertainment not just for teams, but for the entire family.
Rick La Salle sat down with SoccerNation.com to talk more about the history of the Beach Soccer Jam.
The formation of the beach Soccer Jam first came around, “years back, I was meeting with Luca Pacelli, then president of Affinity Sports,” said La Salle. “We were discussing soccer in general, when Luca mentioned something about beach soccer. I was looking out the window at the time and I said, ‘What? Beach Soccer?’” I knew what the beach was and I knew what soccer was, but had never heard of “beach soccer”. After the meeting, La Salle continued to research beach soccer and learned that the game had started years ago back in Brazil and was growing around the world.
The idea to create a beach soccer tournament was born, and then the question became: where would the absolute best place to host it be? There was no better venue in Southern California than Fiesta Island. With plenty of space for fields, easy parking and being located right across Mission Bay from SeaWorld, what could be better? A major plus about Fiesta Island that many coaches have commented on is that the sand there is the perfect depth to make playing beach soccer enjoyable. Most beaches have pretty deep sand where your feet just sink in too deep making it harder to run and play. It’s ok for the pro teams because they’ve trained and are used to it, but much harder for everyone else. La Salle did his homework, created detailed tournament plans for the event, visited the city department in charge of permitting and eventually was able to secure the permits.
Having the experience of being a past president of Hotspurs USA for many years and learning from the various tournament directors who ran their annual Labor Day Tournament, La Salle had a great foundation to start with. Additionally, he had quite a bit of experience creating detailed business plans and budgets in his personal business life which also helped.
Still, La Salle had never run a tournament on his own, so to be safe he partnered with an experienced tournament director to help run it the first season. About a year later, Raffi Ruotolo who had loads of experience running tournaments, came on board. Now, a few of years into it, it’s just Ruotolo and La Salle running the entire event.
“Raffi and I think very much alike in regards to running a 1st class event,” stated La Salle. “We’re not afraid of spending money and bringing in talent to ensure teams have an experience they will never forget. Like any event, things have not always run perfectly. In the past we’ve had to deal with conflicting schedules and elemental forces of nature.” Those growing pains have helped refine the process of administrating the Beach Soccer Jam and have built the event into the community staple that it is.
“We’ve grown quite a bit since then and are working to get the message out about our event because there are still a lot of teams that don’t know much about us, especially in regards to all the entertainment and all the exciting contests we’ve created,” continued La Salle. “ One of our contests is the Best Team Uniform contest and it’s really funny to see the great uniforms some of the teams come up with. The winning teams win a free entry for the following year… We have some pictures of them up on the website.
“Raffi and I work extremely hard to make the event totally unique and unlike any other beach tournament by constantly adding fun and entertaining components. Our goal is to create an experience teams will never forget… That’s why we call Beach Soccer Jam an event, rather than a tournament. The tournament component is only a small part of what Beach Soccer Jam is all about. One look at our website and you’ll know what I’m talking about.”
Registration is open to both youth and adult teams at http://BeachSoccerJam.com.