n a special one-off piece The Youth Radar writes in collaboration with journalist Jasper Taylor to document the England beach soccer scene and it’s attempt to raise its profile.
You can view more of Jasper’s work here or follow him on Twitter.
Dorset FA is looking to make Poole beach the “home of England beach soccer,”
On Sunday 25th March the England Beach Soccer team gathered in Poole for their second training camp of the season.
A lot of the players have past footballing credentials including playing in the Spanish and Italian leagues. General manager of the England squad David Jones explained: “If you looked at their CVs most of these would have been involved in a professional club in some capacity. When they were younger they may have got an injury that put an end to their professional career.”
Beach soccer is now the centre of attention for these players as they look to compete on the world stage. The England team is currently training in a bid to qualify for the 2013 World Cup in the small pacific island of Tahiti. “We hope to travel to Moscow at the end of July for the World Cup Qualifiers. We have never qualified, but in it early days we were invited to play.”
Europe tends to dominate the beach soccer scene, apart from the undoubted dominance of South American giants Brazil, but Europe only have four qualifying places in the bi-annual tournament.
Beach soccer is always looking to gain more publicity and Jones believes it will become an official sport at the 2016 Olympic Games. “We believe it will be at the Olympics in 2016 because they are in Brazil. It is logical that they want to promote it and get a gold medal in their own games.”
The national side was formed in 1995 but the sport was first played in England on the Isle of Wight. Jones told us “The sport was originally developed on Small Hope Beach. The guy who got the right to promote beach soccer just got some goals, painted them yellow and stuck them down the beach.
Poole beach is hoping to provide the perfect preparation setting for England’s summer World Cup Qualifiers. The beach already boasts a full size beach soccer pitch but Jones is excited at the prospect of more facilities. “What a great venue we have here but it would be a dream to have permanent infrastructure. A second pitch I believe is going to be installed as well.”
Despite the rise in popularity of the sport, it has still not quite caught enough attentIon from FA Officials. “We have to have their permission to compete and wear the Three Lions. We don’t get financial support as in a monetary sense, we are just amateurs trying to be professional. We do get kit from Umbro.
This forces the the national team to seek funding from elsewhere. “We are always cap in hand saying please help, with how things are at present we generally rely on sponsors to generate money from somewhere to go to tournaments.”
Poole set to host first mainland league
Dorset FA are currently in the process of developing the first UK mainland Beach Soccer League to be hosted at Poole Beach.
The league will consist of teams from up and down the country with a potential national selection the ultimate prize. Todd Govan from the Dorset FA told The Youth Radar “We are very keen to get as many teams involved in that as we can. The England boys have said they will put a development squad into the league with a view for players to potentially get spotted to play for their country.”
Todd struggled to contain his excitement for the sport and said: “I don’t think a day goes by when I don’t talk about beach soccer to someone.”
Poole Beach looks to be spearheading the sport in England and Todd added: “I think it’s absolutely fantastic. We recently got voted to have one of the best beaches in the country and from my point of view it is part of our vision as a county FA that Poole becomes the home of England beach soccer. To have them down here is an excellent resource and publicity for us.”
Jones is also excited about the prospect of the league in Poole and believes it is “massive. We desperately needed it. We are a football nation.” And that nation will continue to grow with the inclusion of beach soccer and Poole beach acting as the catalyst to its popularity.
The Poole Beach Soccer League will run for six weeks throughout the summer and will follow the same rules as normal beach soccer except games will last for a slightly shorter period. A women’s and junior league will also be established next summer in a bid to strengthen the reputation of this ever-growing sport even further.
Anyone interested in entering the new league should get in contact with the Dorset FA
An introduction to beach soccer…
The official rules of Beach Soccer were created in 1992 after the beaches of Brazil were littered with acrobatic athletes who used the sand as the perfect canvas to showcase their footballing talents. Expect to see skill, agility and a some spectacular goals as the game averages a goal every three minutes. The sand provides a tricky surface which forces the players to use every part of their body. Overhead kicks and diving headers aren’t rare in this sport, so prepare yourself for a thrilling match.
The pitch measures 28×37 metres, about a quarter of the size of a standard grass pitch. Each team consists of five players and up to five rolling substitutes. This lends itself to accelerating the pace and flow of the game.
There are three quarters of twelve minutes in each match but if teams are level a three minute ‘Golden Goal’ period determines the winner. If the teams are still tied, a penalty shootout decides the victor.
And of course, one of the main rules – no shoes!