LONG BEACH - Josh Middough saw his love of soccer come full circle.
From 1981 to 1987, Middough, 36, of Long Beach, played on one of the Long Beach Youth Soccer Organization's recreation, or beginners, teams. On Sunday, 32 years after he began, Middough was coaching the Long Beach Dynamite, one of the soccer group's recreation teams for girls under 9 years old, at the 26th Annual Mayor's Cup 2013.
The annual soccer club tournament was hosted and sponsored by the Long Beach Youth Soccer Organization and held at East Long Beach's Heartwell Park.
"As a kid, I loved playing in this tournament," Middough said. "Now being able to coach a team in the same tournament is great. It came full circle."
Any accredited soccer club was welcome to register for the tournament. Entry fees were required, and the soccer teams had to pay their own travel and lodging expenses.
About 1,400 boys and girls ranging from 7 to 14 years old were competing in the two-day event, Lardizabal said.
The 95 teams were divided into three playing levels: Recreation for beginners, signature for intermediate players and advanced for competitive players.
The teams fanned out among 18 soccer fields at four Long
This event also is of the few tournaments that welcomes recreation teams in their own playing level. Most tournaments lump together all playing levels, Lardizabal said.
"We had more recreation teams register this year than ever before," he said. "It makes the games more enjoyable for the players."
Those divisions also allow coaches and players to learn from other teams, Middough said.
"I can watch and learn from other coaches to see what I can apply to my players," he said.
"It also gives a good measure of a team's strengths and weaknesses. It gives us a chance to see where we need to improve," Middough said.
"I want to see a high level of playing among the teams, instead of one team dominating. You get that here."