While the countdown to the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Italy 2011 in Ravenna in September continues apace, the beach soccer family has been keeping itself busy elsewhere with seminars and competitions all over the world. FIFA.com updates you on all the news from the last two months.

In the middle of April, FIFA held a beach soccer course in the Maldives, the first part of which was devoted to local coaches, and the second to the country’s referees. Taking charge of the coaching component of the course, which was attended by 24 coaches in all, was Brazilian instructor Marcelo Mendes. Three of the participants were women, one of whom held a “C” coaching badge awarded by the AFC. There were also two women among the 35 referees put through their paces by Swiss instructor Stephan Fassler.

FIFA organised another beach soccer referees course in El Salvador, with instructors Jesus Rubio Cano of Spain and Ronald Gutierrez of Costa Rica this time taking charge.

Beach Soccer around the globe
The principal beach soccer event of the last two months was the Mundialito de Clubes, which was held in Sao Paulo on 19-26 March. Ten of the world’s biggest teams took part, each of them vying for the prestigious title of club world champions.

The teams were drawn into two sections of five, with Corinthians (BRA), Santos (BRA), Seattle Sounders (USA), Sporting Lisbon (POR) and Lokomotiv Moscow (RUS) making up Group A, and Vasco de Gama (BRA), Flamengo (BRA), Boca Juniors (ARG), Barcelona (ESP) and AC Milan (ITA) pitched together in Group B. It was Vasco and Sporting Lisbon who fought their way through to the final, with the Brazilians running out the winners, underlining the country’s domination of the global beach soccer scene.

The following month all eyes were on Florida and the Beach Soccer Worldwide Miami Cup 2011, the first time the event has been staged. Once again Brazil came out on top, coming from behind to defeat Mexico 3-1 in the final match, a result that confirms A Seleção’s status as the red-hot favourites for Italy 2011. Taking second place behind the Brazilians were USA, with Mexico third and Spain fourth. The inaugural Miami Cup proved a huge success and Beach Soccer Worldwide are planning to make the event a permanent fixture on the calendar.

Finally, the Official Emblem and Official Match Ball of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Italy 2011 were unveiled in Ravenna on 15 April.

Next up
There is still plenty happening before the ball gets rolling at Italy 2011. There are no fewer than eight development initiatives planned for the next two months in four different confederations, with coaching and refereeing courses taking place in Belarus, Lebanon, Iran, Estonia, Cayman Islands, Gambia plus St Kitts and Nevis. Out on the sand, the Moroccan city of Casablanca will host the African qualifying competition for Italy 2011, with countries from across the continent fighting it out for two berths at the beach soccer world finals.

What they said
“I’m convinced that we can develop the sport across the whole country over the next four to five years. We greatly appreciate the work of the two instructors leading the course, and we would like to thank FIFA for their support in developing football in the Maldives,” Mauroof Ahmed, National Technical Director of the Maldives Football Association.

“We are delighted that everything went off well and all our expectations have been fulfilled. The crowds were great. They really enjoyed the show and we’ve had some fantastic feedback. What with the reaction we’ve had from people and the support of the local authorities, for which we’re also very grateful, we’re looking to make the cup an annual event,” Joan Cusco, President of Beach Soccer Worldwide and a member of the FIFA Futsal Beach Soccer Committee.

“I’m really happy. The Mundialito de Clubes is a very important competition, and all I can say is that I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to play a part in this dream event,” Pampero of Vasco de Gama, the winners of the 2011 Mundialito de Clubes in Sao Paulo.