When Bill Pydynkowski founded Hampton Beach Soccer in 2018, he was simply looking to share his love of the sport with others.Now, just over a year later, the Hampton Beach Soccer tournaments have become a summer highlight for dozens of soccer fans of all ages.
“I really wanted to put together some kind of training environment where we could promote soccer and [soccer] culture in a little bit more of a relaxed way than a club or school training session,” Pydynkowski said.
Pydynkowski, who has loved the game since he was 7, got the idea of bringing soccer games to the sand when his high school coach began taking the team on beach runs during training.
“Ever since then I’ve always wondered, ‘Why don’t we just bring a ball to the beach and have our practice here?’ It was kind of a back-burner idea for a long, long time,” he said.
Last year Pydynkowski finally made his idea a reality and was thrilled with the positive response.
“We started this last year with three teams — this year we’ve had 10 sign up in advance,” he said. “We had 43 players sign up last week, so interest is there. It’s been amazing to see the support from people in the area.”
The final tournaments of the summer are coming up on Saturday, Aug. 17, and Sunday, Aug, 18, starting at 10 a.m. Everyone is invited to come watch the games; for those who want to play, online registration is required at hamptonbeachsoccer.com. Registration is $30 for individual youth players (ages 13 to 17) and $300 for a youth team. For Hampton Beach Soccer’s final date, individual adults can enjoy a discounted registration fee of $20, and $350 for an adult team. All teams can roster up to 12 players.
Following a mostly pick-up game format, the structure of each tournament is simple. Teams are split by the order in which players arrive, and games are broken into three 10-minute periods. The tournament begins with a round-robin stage, where teams are placed into groups based on age and experience level.
Each team is guaranteed to play at least three games, and winners of the round-robin advance to the elimination stage, where they compete in a single-elimination playoff that leads up to the Championship Trophy Match.
The beach tournaments are meant to be fun, family-friendly events that include not only players of all ability levels but their friends and family on the sidelines as well. Both days involve music, as well as raffles with prizes and gift cards donated from local businesses. Everyone at the beach is encouraged to pitch a tent with their team and get involved.
“Really the whole idea is to roll the ball out. We’re inviting teams to bring their tents, their friends, their families, and camp out with us along the beach. … The whole goal is really just to get people out on the beach and having fun,” Pydynkowski said. “It was really cool [at our July 26 tournament] to see all the team tents set up around. It really helped us crystalize our vision of where this event is headed and what it could be in the future.”
Making sure the tournaments provide a welcoming and supportive environment for players is important to Pydynkowski, who says some of the most important friendships in his life were first cultivated on the field.
“One person said it was like a social accelerator where they came in by themselves to check it out and ended up making four or five new friends just through our tournament,” Pydynkowski said.
He credits a large portion of the tournament’s success to his dedicated team.
“The staff team I’ve put together has really been top-notch. I’m so impressed and happy that I’ve found so many friends and individuals that share a passion for the game as much as I do,” he said. “That includes referees, that includes our registration staff, everybody. I’m working with a small team but it’s growing.”
— Elyse Carmosino