Beach football hard but fun
There will be no grass stains but plenty of action at Saturday's Beach Football Tournament at Oriental Bay.
It is the fifth tournament of its kind, and organiser Damien Hochberg says spectators should be ready for a day of fast-paced football fun.
"The tournament always gets a good reception in Wellington. I wouldn't say it's an easy sport, but it's enjoyable and everyone has a laugh."
The maximum number of teams entered relatively quickly this year, reflecting the tournament's growing popularity.
In addition to the winning title, teams are playing for $4000 worth of prizes, from sunscreen, Wellington Phoenix tickets, vouchers for Exodus gym and Public Bar and Eatery, and spot prizes too.
This year's event comes after a successful 2013 tournament, when the weather gods played along nicely, Hochberg says.
"The nature of the Wellington tournament is that all the teams come with great sportsmanship and they are there to play and have fun. Winning is important, but it's not the be-all."
Generally the contestants should be over 18, but some players may be 16 with parental consent, Hochberg says.
Teams will be either all-men or mixed, as no all-women teams entered this year.
"I really think women should come and check it out, we have had quite a few girls play in the past and they loved it.
"Sand is a real leveller, so as long as you've got a little bit of fitness, you're fine."
Players' skills will vary, with some regularly playing competitively while for others it will be their first time.
Last year saw Bay Boys take the grand prize, and they will be entering again under the team name Futsal Gypsies.
Team Zico, winners of 2011 and 2012 , will be out to win back their champions' title.
This will be Miramar's John Carras' third time playing in the tournament, and he is keen to go one better after his team lost in the 2012 final by one goal.
"It's very difficult playing on sand, and that's why we have eight people in a team to keep rotating. It's ridiculously hard, but good fun."
Oriental Bay's sand was a particular challenge. "It's like playing on gravel – your feet get ripped up, so that's why some of us play in socks."
No shoes allowed
Players use a lighter football
The field is roughly 15m x 25m
Teams consist of five players, including the goalkeeper
Unlimited number of substitutions allowed
Goalies can be swapped during the game
Kickoff for the first game is at 9.30am and the final is at 4pm, rain or shine. See beachfootballnz.co.nz for more details.
The Dominion Post