Great Yarmouth’s Central Beach goes football crazy

Great Yarmouth's Central Beach has a Copacabana feel this weekend with Soccer on the Sands becoming the big attraction.

More than 1,000 children are taking part in the eighth-running of the event, the matches in four beach arenas watched by scores of spectators on the promenade.

More than 120 teams are taking part with the players, ranging in age from under-sevens to under-13s, coming from as far afield as Derby as well as all over Norfolk and parts of Suffolk.

James Shelton, communications officer for Norfolk FA, which organises the tournament in partnership with Active Norfolk, said: 'Each year the reputation of the event continues to grow and this time we have had interest expressed from teams in Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire as well as the junior girls' team attached to Derby County taking part.'

To add to the excitement, each team has the identity of a Champions League side and the arenas are being given such glamorous names as Tottenham's White Hart Lane and Barcelona's Nou Camp home.

Mr Shelton said: 'Playing on the beach helps to develop close control, but the main thing is the tournament is something fun and different. We never thought that after eight years we would have arrived at this level of interest.

'It is good for the town as well. Local beach traders and cafes benefit and people have told us this has become one of the most important weekends in the calendar for tourism.

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'People watching on the promenade have remarked what a great idea it is and one man even said he would be keen to bring a team up from London next summer.'

Martyn Fuller, the coach of an under-13s team from Rocklands, near Attleborough, said: 'My son Ryan plays and all the kids absolutely love it. We have been coming since the first year.'

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