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Date of Issue: December 08, 2005

sport pic
Jonathan Okafer of Player Development Academies in New Jersey goes high in the air to win this header during soccer action at the Nike Friendlies.
sport pic
A PDA player and a Scott Gallagher player battle for the ball at G.T. Bray during soccer action at the Nike Friendlies.

Anna Maria: Close enough for horseshoes

Sixty-five high caliber soccer clubs from 20 U.S. states have converged in Bradenton for the fifth annual Nike Friendlies tournament hosted by IMG Academies. The first Nike Friendies drew 19 clubs to the event, which showcases the nations finest soccer clubs in a four-day tournament, stressing high-quality soccer and player development over wins and losses. Because of that focus, no standings are kept and no champion is crowned.

The main purpose is for players to be "seen" competing at an elite level. College scouts from all over the country scout players within three age divisions.

The U.S. Soccer Association also hosts at the same time a coaching symposium and a Premier Referee Academy during Nike Friendlies weekend. The coaching symposium lasted three days with renowned coaches led by U.S. U-17 men’s national coach John Hackworth, U.S. U-18 men’s national coach and director of education and youth development Bob Jenkins, U.S. men’s national goalkeeping coach Phil Wheddon and others. The referee academy allows 32 referees to be evaluated and learn what it takes to referee at the highest levels in the game.

For soccer fans, it’s a chance to take in some of the best youth soccer action in the country for free and with 65 teams and their families all coming to Bradenton, the event is a nice shot in the arm for area tourism.

Horseshoe news

Ron Pepka and John Crawford, both of Bradenton, unleashed a barrage of ringers to win the Dec. 12 horseshoe competition at Anna Maria City Hall by a 25-9 score over Ron Slagh of Bradenton Beach and Sam Samuels of Cortez. Slagh and Samuels advanced to the finals by defeating Jerry Disbrow of Bradenton and Debbie Rhodes of Cortez in the semifinals.

Jay Disbrow and Norm Good defeated Jay’s brother Jerry and Bruce Munro in an all-Bradenton final Nov. 30.

Play gets under way at 9 a.m. every Wednesday and Saturday at the Anna Maria City Hall pits. Warm ups begin at 8:45 a.m. followed by random team selection. There is no charge to play and everyone is welcome.

Center news

The Anna Maria Island Community Center athletic program was unavailble to provide information in regard to youth basketball or the upcoming Holiday Indoor Soccer Tournament.

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