South Florida Has A Winning Team: Men's Beach Soccer

Categories: Sports
soccer stitches.jpg
Courtesy of Erich Kuhnke
Florida Beach Soccer's Ben Astorga, a former member of the U.S. Beach Soccer National Team, got nine stitches in his face before the final match.
We get it already -- the Heat lost. It was sad. But another team has been defending Miami's honor, and these guys actually won a championship -- Florida Beach Soccer FC, a five-man team of footballers with professional credentials who are now the North American Sand Soccer champions.

It's more serious than it sounds -- the tournament, held last weekend in Virginia Beach, had teams from as far away as California in its headline pro/am division, and Florida Beach Soccer came home with $10,000 in prize money and the first place trophy.

Player and club President Erich Kuhnke, who sells construction supplies during the day, says the team went to the tourney last year with haphazard preparations, but after taking third place decided they were "going to go back this year and win the damn thing."

Though they only practice for a few hours a week, all the players are long-time soccer players with lengthy résumés, and three are current or former members from the U.S. Beach Soccer Men's National Team, which finished second in the Miami Cup tournament last month.

In a 3-3 draw against Spain, Florida Beach Soccer's Oscar Gil scored all three of the national team's goals in regulation, and the team's Francis Faberoff scored the only overtime penalty kick.

Kuhnke said the team's next stop is a July tournament in Chicago, which, as it turns out, has a beach. They're then planning to take on the Bahamas National Beach Soccer Team in September.

soccer team shot.jpg
Courtesy of Erich Kuhnke
From right to left: Gil, Kuhnke, Faberoff and an unnamed beach bum who appears to be stealing Gatorade.
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