Ecuador's fishermen get in line

One sight that leaves a lifelong impression is watching the fisherman of Ecuador playing football on the beaches alongside the Pacific Ocean. It is after long hard nights fishing and facing the elements you can observe the artisan fleet heading homeward bound for their fishing villages and ports along the thousand kilometers or so of Ecuadorian coastline. They come ashore with their catches of sea bass, dorado and fresh sole that later on will be served up as part of exotic menus and dishes around the country. Once the fishermen’s work is done and the boats pulled onto the beaches it’s time for football, making use of the wide and long beaches as their natural football pitches. A couple of markers are placed on the sand as goal posts, afootball is positioned in the centre and the game is on. Amazingly there are literally hundreds and even thousands of fishermen doing the very same thing all along the coastal region of Ecuador, every single day.

In Ecuador you can find organised beach football competitions throughout the year being played in the main coastal cities, but one very important thing is missing, everybody has been playing under local rules, far away from the rules and regulations set up by FIFA for Beach Soccer. Recognising that this needed to be addressed the Ecuadorian Football Federation requested the presence of FIFA instructors to correct and align Ecuador’s Beach Soccer during a coaching course organized from the 16 to 20 of August in Guayaquil.

Imagine what we will be able to do and how far we can go once we have organised beach soccer in the country.
Francisco Acosta, General Secretary of Ecuador's FA.

The Ecuadorian Football Federation’s general secretary, Francisco Acosta commented: “We have been aware that many people play soccer on our beautiful beaches, all over the country, and that it was time to bring this under the federations’ jurisdiction and in turn under the FIFA umbrella. This is a great opportunity for many young players living in the coastal regions of Ecuador, just last year we missed out through a late goal to make it to the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Dubai, imagine what we will be able to do and how far we can go once we have organised beach soccer in the country.”

It is through the FIFA Beach Soccer course that the FEF have placed certain short and medium term objectives; the first objective is to organize an Ecuadorian beach soccer championship under FIFA rules. Ecuador is also in line to host the South American Beach Soccer championship in the city of Manta scheduled for December 2011.

Ecuador can already boast a FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup referee, Gonzalo Villavicencio, who officiated at the last event in Dubai. There is also a regulation-size beach soccer pitch in the city of Guayaquil, in the past it had mostly been used for beach volleyball, but its future is booked to host beach soccer seminars and teaching clinics to spread the Beach Soccer word.

Two FIFA instructors Bolivar Montero from Costa Rica and Hector Petrasso from Argentina arrived in Guayaquil keen to exchange experiences and conduct the first ever FIFA Beach Soccer course in Ecuador. The course programme covered all the important topics to enable the participants to understand the history, rules, technical aspects, goalkeeping, tactics, systems, free kick situations and event organisation. This, of course, was apart from the referees classes going on simultaneously in the classroom and on the pitch in Guayaquil.

The participants came from the coastal provinces of El Oro, Esmeraldas, Santa Helena, Los Rios and Guayas to gather knowledge and the know how to take back home and pass this on to players, coaches and referees. All of this valuable information and content is to promote and create Beach Soccer’s popularity within the country, part of FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter’s philosophy to grow the game.