SportsEvents Magazine

JAN 2018

SportsEvents is edited for those who plan tournaments or other sports events.

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January 2018 42 his sights on developing a professional footgolf league in the long term. The AFGL calendar is packed with promotional events to competitions that range from the AFGL Tour, the U.S. FootGolf Open (a pro-am tournament), the U.S. National Championship and the FIFG World Cup. In general, competition is open to men and women (18 years and older), seniors (men 46 and older) and ju- niors (12- to 17-year-old boys and girls). Balestrini said growth has happened on both the recreational and competi- tive sides of footgolf, noting that this year, nearly 2,000 players competed in qualifiers for the U.S. FootGolf National Championship, a 60 percent increase. The Host City Scores Those numbers translate into dollars for cities that host footgolf qualifiers, tournaments and championships. Because of the international appeal of the sport, Balestrini opts for cities that are easily accessible for players traveling from other countries and locations that make nice vacation spots for families. "It has to be a location where there are players who are interested in the sport and easy to get to for the players who want to travel," he said. "We really want a host city that wants to be involved in the event and see the community get involved besides being a tournament." Los Angeles, Orlando and Las Vegas were among the cities that Balestrini mentioned that feature international air- ports and lots of entertainment options. "Players love to travel with their young families and spend the tournament week visiting all the attractions in the area," he said. "Kissimmee Sports Commission and Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau are our major partners. They offer great local support in many ways!" Going for the Goal Footgolf isn't just for golfers or soccer players, though the more soccer players discover the sport, the more it is growing, according to Balestrini. Even athletes who may have been injured while playing other sports are finding that footgolf is a new outlet for them to compete in, he said. Since the last FIFG FootGolf World Cup in 2016, the sport has made signif- icant gains and will hold its third World Cup in Marrakesh, Morocco, in Decem- ber 2018. There, more than 400 players from nearly 40 countries will compete, compared to 230 players and 26 countries who participated in Argentina. While he is enjoying the sport's continued growth, Balestrini said he is especially looking ahead to that global competition. "We, the United States, are the current world champion in the team category," he said, "and I can't be more proud about it!" n t SPORT Report Piero Menor of the Miami Footgolf Club Jordon Godfrey, a California Footgolf team member

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