Beach soccer lays roots in Dubai

November 2009 will be remembered as a major turning point in the history of beach soccer in Dubai. No sooner had the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup drawn to a close with yet another global title for Brazil than it was time to think about the long-term development of the discipline in the region. What impact will the competition have there, for example, and what would be the best way to cultivate the obvious enthusiasm whipped up by the event?

Naturally, FIFA takes those issues very seriously. Indeed, while the teams were gearing up to compete for honours on Jumeirah beach, FIFA’s Technical Development organised two coaching seminars.

The first, held between 7 and 9 November, brought together 25 beach soccer specialists. A number of those invited currently serve as instructors for FIFA and others will perhaps choose that route in the future, fortified by the skills they developed during the seminar. The occasion was dedicated to the unveiling of new coaching materials developed by the FIFA Technical Department, consisting of a manual and a DVD, both of which proved a big hit.

With 17 different nationalities represented, a number of those in attendance would go on to play a very direct role in the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup itself: namely, Portuguese player Madjer, Spanish player Amarelle, Switzerland’s player-coach Angelo Schirinzi, United Arab Emirates coach Marcelo Mendes, Russia coach Nikolai Pisarev and Spain coach Joaquin Alonso. There could be no surer sign that FIFA’s beach soccer courses are in good hands.

“It’s a fantastic tool for the coaches because as well as giving theoretical descriptions of an action, it gives you a few examples to ease understanding and learning,” said Amarelle of the coaching manual. His Portuguese counterpart Madjer was equally enthusiastic, saying: “This manual is very thorough. It’s an excellent tool for beginners, but also for more experienced coaches.”

The instructors were also able to share their experiences and the lessons they picked up along the way during their various missions in 2009, while putting forward their suggestions for possible new instructors.

As the seminar coincided with the Asian Zone qualifiers for Dubai 2009, the participants spent a good portion of their time analysing the matches, with the goal of refining their coaching methods to keep in line with recent developments in the game at the highest level.

Lastly, the FIFA representatives were able to reveal the launch of a proactive beach soccer programme consisting of courses, tournaments and organisational guidance for countries with genuine potential in terms of developing the discipline and a national association already active in the sport. One more way of underlining FIFA’s development philosophy: "If you do, FIFA does."

In addition to those coaching activities, FIFA also organised a visit from Gabino Renales, the director of marketing for FIFA Beach Soccer SL. It was essential that the beach soccer instructors receive some marketing training as the discipline is still relatively young and, in a large number of countries, at a very early stage of development. As its technical representatives, they must also be able to promote it to the various partners and even to local football officials across the globe.

Dubai was likewise the stage for a concrete application of that seminar, with two FIFA instructors holding a course for 22 local coaches between 13 and 18 November. Overseen by Germany’s Eduard Lowen and Mark Williams of South Africa, the lesson centred on the technical and tactical aspects of beach soccer, as well the physical preparatory work specific to the discipline.

The participants – all newcomers to the sport – also received several insights into refereeing, tournament organisation and the strategy of beach soccer development from the UAE football association, in addition to trying their hand at match analysis during the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. The participants were similarly treated to a talk by FIFA Technical Study Group members Marcelo Mendes and Ross Ongaro, who both spoke about the nature of their work.

With so many initiatives being taken and local coaches eager to hone their talents, there can be no doubt that beach soccer faces a radiant future on the sands of the UAE and throughout the region. FIFA will be back in the first half of 2010, in fact, with a regional seminar to be held in Saudi Arabia.