A star returns to school, Russia win again

The world of beach soccer continues to move apace after the enthralling FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2011 that saw Russia dethrone Brazil and turn the sport’s established order on its head.

Notable events from the past two months include an unlikely return to the classroom for one of El Salvador’s beach soccer stars, and yet more success on the sand for world champions Russia.

The highlights
The great stories just keep coming in El Salvador. After the national team returned from their heroic display at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, where they reached the semi-finals before falling to eventual champions Russia, team captain Jose Agustin Ruiz made the surprise announcement that he would be going back to school.

“People ask me why I sign autographs with my initials JAR,” Ruiz told the television station Fox News Latino. “I simply tell them that I’ve never been to school, so I don’t know how to read or write. I learned to write my initials with help from God, teachers that taught me for about two hours, and my wife, Idalia, who helped me at home.”

The saying goes that you are never too old to learn, and the 20-year-old recent FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup semi-finalist seems determined to make up for lost time. “God willing, I want to learn to read as much as possible, then go on to finish school, and then learn English,” he added.

Development
Several FIFA-organised events have taken place in four different confederations over the past two months. In Asia, a course for beach soccer referees was held in Iraq, while a coaching course was also held in neighbouring Iran. In the Caribbean, a course for coaches was held in Turks and Caicos Islands, while in Africa, a coaching course was also held in Madagascar. Finally in Oceania, a course for referees was staged in New Caledonia.

Beach soccer across the globe
There has only been one major tournament of note in the past two months, since the excitement of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Ravenna/Italy 2011. The Beach Soccer International Cup 2011 was held over four days in Dubai and featured eight national teams, including world champions Russia, Brazil and Switzerland. Russia proved that their recent world triumph was no fluke, as they secured yet another victory over Brazil in the final to take the title. Switzerland, meanwhile, finished third ahead of hosts United Arab Emirates.

Next up
To round off FIFA’s beach soccer development efforts for 2011, two courses for coaches are to be held in Oceania. One will take place in New Caledonia to follow on from November’s refereeing course, while the other will be held in Tahiti. Courses for referees and coaches are also due to take place in Uganda as well as Clearwater, Florida in the USA, to coincide with the National Championships. As far as competitions are concerned, the South American Beach Games will run from 7-11 December in Manta, Ecuador, while the Copa Lagos is due to take place in Nigeria between 16-18 December.

What they said
“We set out a plan and our players stuck to it to near perfection. We made one mistake on the throw-in and Brazil made us pay for it with the first goal. I’m proud of what my players have achieved so far. This is a young team and they can go a long way with the qualities that they show. They back one another on and off the pitch, they have good tactical awareness and they show a lot of strength by playing from their hearts, especially against such top-quality teams like Brazil,” Marcelo Mendes, United Arab Emirates coach and FIFA instructor.

“The Turks and Caicos Islands Football Association is very grateful to FIFA for its support in helping to develop beach soccer in our country. Our federation is fully committed to promoting and developing this spectacular variation of our sport at every level, from youngsters and seniors to coaches and referees. Our ambitions are lofty but realistic, and having seen the enthusiasm and interest that the sport can generate, we are convinced that we can make beach soccer a great success in our country. We have created senior leagues for men and women, and have staged several tournaments that have been well-received. Young players are particularly attracted by the sport and its spectacular nature. In 2012 we want to develop the sport and our leagues, and organise youth tournaments and school competitions. With our hot climate, beautiful beaches and crystal-clear sea, we have an ideal environment in which to play beach soccer. As we develop the sport, this can help us attract partners and investors who share our vision of promoting beach soccer throughout the country,” Matthew Green, technical director of the TCIFA.