ROXBURY, NJ – The national anthems were played, a couple of local officials gave their welcoming speeches. It was about 9:15 a.m. Thursday and all that was left to be said were the words “Let the games begin.”

With that came the start of something unique for the United States: Teams representing several South American nations were on USA soil competing in fistball, a sport that - while barely known here - is the stuff of stadiums elsewhere on the planet.

It was the kickoff of the first Pan-American Fistball Tournament. Good spirits and enthusiasm were easy to find all over the Swim and Sport Club off Emmans Road.

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But as the time for play drew near, so were signs that the people wearing the colorful uniforms were not there just for fun; They were there to win, and national teams gathered to discuss strategy and hear advice from their coaches.

It was a nice experience for about 50 members of the Roxbury High School Marching Band, said band director Rich Hartsuiker. The contingent – about half of the full marching band – performed a flawless rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” as members of the Roxbury Police Department Color Guard, joined by a local Boy Scout Honor Guard, stood at attention.

The public is invited to watch the games. It will cost $6 per day for adults and $2 for children 12 and under. More information is available online. Play will continue throughout the weekend.