For the past 32 years Friendship Sports has been a family operated business hosting soccer tournaments in the Vegas Valley for men & women of all ages. On certain weekends from January through May and then again for one weekend in November, there's a total of 5 tournaments that average 60 teams each and are played on 10 fields at the Silverbowl Soccer Complex. Players come from all over the world and I can tell you after photographing the event for the past 5 years that many of the same teams show up year after year!
My favorite tourney is in April, when the 65+ Women's teams play (along with the younger whipper-snappers). These gals put their all into it and although the ball doesn't usually spend much time in the air and often stops rolling during play, these women still get down and dirty and can cuss like sailors. Last year they were put on a smaller field with smaller goals and they didn't like that at all! This year it'll be back to the big leagues for these senior All-Stars.
The 65 and over 2017 Women's Division Teams
Along with Women's & Men's divisions, there's also the popular age-defined Coed divisions which is perfect for groups of friends.
Also, all the referees are certified graduates from the local referee academy and they have no problem with settling any disputes or throwing down a penalty card when needed. Fighting is not allowed and will result in disqualification because after all, the name of the tournament is FRIENDSHIP SPORTS!
Yellow card given for roughing the goalie
Last year we even had a famous celebrity show up to play... well not really, but he sure did look like Ed Sheeran, right down to his jersey and tattoos.
When I first started photographing these tournaments I was using a Canon 60D with a 70-300 budget lens. I've since moved up to a Canon 6D with a Tamron 70-200 lens and just this past year I've upgraded to a Sigma 150-600 lens which is perfect for getting photos of the action from across the field. You see, soccer is much more fast-paced and unpredictable compared to sports like baseball and football. I like to compare it to trying to follow the ball around the table when playing a pinball machine.
Of course timing is everything and I often get funny expressions right after a player "heads" the ball. Also, over the years I've noticed that before a game starts many of the Latino players appear to stretch but I think they're also saying a little prayer because many of them gesture the sign of the cross before rising from their knees.
This guy hit the goal HARD but he was a trooper and kept on playing.
Why aren't there tournaments in the summer months? Because it's to dang hot.
So what do you say? November, January and the Spring months are a great time to visit Las Vegas with our awesome weather! Why don't you put a team together and join Friendship Sports over the next year? The worst that can happen is to have a team of 65+ year old women show you how it's done!
Check-out Friendship Sports' Facebook page for more info and photos.