2024 Sunshine State Games Events

SSG International Beach Games Brings First Beach Soccer Event to Panama City Beach

The 2021 Sunshine State Games International Beach Games continues to bring firsts to Northwest Florida and Panama City Beach, the weekend of August 13-15.

Not only is the Beach Games the first Sunshine State Games (SSG) event in Northwest Florida, the Beach Soccer tournament will be the first of its kind for the sport in Panama City Beach. The Highland Games will be the first fall event for the sport, and the first since the 28th Annual Scottish Festival, in March 2020.

Registration for the three sports of the 2021 SSG International Beach Games, Beach Soccer, Beach Volleyball and the Highland Games, continues through Saturday, August 7. Registration fees vary by sport and is available at https://sunshinestate.fusesport.com/registration/1505/.

Panama City Beach’s first Beach Soccer Event will be held at M.B. Miller County Pier, on Saturday, August 14 and Sunday, August 15. An added bonus to draw in potential players, officials and fans of the game will be a free clinic for players and officials on Friday evening from 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. at M.B. Miller County Pier.

Beach Soccer offers fast, fun and exciting action. Small fields, five versus five competitions on the sand with unlimited substitution, keeps the action going. The soft sand is a great equalizer for varying degrees of skill and conditioning. It helps cushion impacts on the body and slows down the fastest of runners.

Beach Soccer develops new soccer skills and develops stamina over time while having a great time on the beach. Fast moving action and higher scoring because of the smaller fields and the unpredictable bounce of the ball in the soft sand make this an exciting game.

“It’s very appealing to the eye,” said SSG Beach Soccer Sport Director Jeff Sundy. “It’s a smaller game, it’s fast and it’s technical. Not like the low scores on the larger fields.”

The Free Clinic for athletes and officials, on Friday, August 13, beginning at 5:00 p.m., will be directed by professional league beach soccer players and certified referees, according to Sundy. There will be a discussion about the sport and its rules and the technical part of the game, followed by a game between the participants and officiated by the referees attending the clinic.

The Highland Games competition will take place at Aaron Bessant Park, on Saturday, August 14. The Highland Games features seven events for athletes, including Open Stone, Heavy Weight for Distance, Light Weight for Distance, Heavy Hammer, Caber Toss, Sheaf and Weight Over Bar.

It will be the first Highland Games competition in over 15 months in Panama City Beach, since the 28th Annual Panama City Beach Scottish Festival, held in March, 2020.

The SSG Highland Games Sport Director, Danny Webster, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, conducts Highland Games events all over the country and is an athlete in the sport as well. He finished 5th in the 2021 Highland Games Masters National Championships, in June, in Lebanon, Tennessee.

With his many contacts in the sport, athletes from nine states and a handful of Florida cities have already registered for the event. Webster also agrees holding the event in Panama City Beach helps out with tourism.

“Having the Games close to the beach makes it good for a vacation,” he said.

Matt and Emily Adams, of Chesapeake, Ohio, have registered to compete and are two of the top Highland Games athletes in the world, according to Webster.

Emily set a Women’s #16 Sheaf World Record with a throw clearing the bar at 25 feet, one inch at the Arnold Classic in March, 2020. Matt has won the Lightweight Division in the last three Highland Games he has competed, going back to April of this year, and is an assistant track and field coach at Marshall University for throws events.

All events of the Sunshine State Games International Beach Games are free and the public is encouraged to attend. For more competition and registration information, please visit www.sunshinestategames.com/beach-games.

The 2021 SSG International Beach Games are a program of the Florida Sports Foundation, the state of Florida’s leading sports promotion and development organization, presented in conjunction with Visit Panama City. The Sunshine State Games, now in its 42nd year, is the nation’s longest continuously running State Games, dating back to 1980.