On 12 May, the Solomon Islands Beach Soccer School of Excellence received its official launch at the DC Park beach soccer pitch near the capital Honiara. The school targets children between the ages of 6 and 12, and will allow stars from the national beach soccer team to take part in coaching activities.
Previously, in 2009, FIFA approved a Goal project in the Solomon Islands to establish national futsal and beach soccer academies, with the aim of reaching the international top 10 in the two disciplines by 2018.
In March, FIFA’s beach soccer development activities saw instructors travel to Mauritius, where Lakhdar Benchabane, from France, and island native Eddy Rose led a combined course for referees and coaches. Benchabane then visited Morocco in May, accompanied by local favourite Mustapha El Haddaoui, to conduct another combined course for referees and coaches.
In Russia, meanwhile, Spain’s Francisco Sarmiento Ballester represented FIFA at a training event for referees from the Russian national beach soccer league, ahead of the start of the 2012 season.
Beach soccer across the globe
In March, favourites Brazil were crowned Copa America champions with victory over Mexico, giving the Auriverde renewed glory after a relatively unsuccessful 2011.
Two competitions took place in April. The Cuadrangular Futbol Playa in El Salvador pitted the hosts against Costa Rica, Uruguay and Guatemala, with the Guatemalans emerging victorious to announce themselves as a potential new force in CONCACAF beach soccer. The UAE Beach Soccer League was also decided in April, with Dubai outfit Al Ahli inspired to victory by Portuguese star Madjer.
In May, Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow underlined the country’s current domination of the sport by winning the Mundialito de Clubes competition in Sao Paulo, beating Rio de Janeiro outfit Flamengo in the final. Ex-AC Milan goalkeeper Dida was a notable guest as he pulled on the shirt of his former Italian club to play in the competition.
The Beach Soccer Worldwide Kiev Cup 2012 was also held in May, with Ukraine taking the title ahead of Portugal, Italy and the Netherlands. Ukraine also won the qualifying tournament for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2011 last year.
What they said
“It’s great to have the chance to take part in such a big event. I had gone two years without playing football, but I quickly got used to the pace of the game and the rather special conditions on the sand,” Dida, former AC Milan and Brazil goalkeeper.
“I would like to congratulate the team manager, the coaches and the players for this victory in the first Asia Pacific Beach Soccer Gold Cup. I feel proud, and I’m certain that this victory has made everyone in Vanuatu happy. It’s a great example for other sports in Vanuatu to follow,” Meltek Sato Kilman Livtuvanu, Prime Minister of Vanuatu, after the national team’s victory at the Asia Pacific Beach Soccer Gold Cup.
“We play football for the love of the game and our country. It’s an honour for us to represent El Salvador, and we do it with the aim of bringing happiness to our people. El Salvador is now considered a force in beach soccer, and people respect us because we’ve achieved in five years what many countries couldn’t do in 20,” Francisco Velásquez, who plays for the El Salvador national beach soccer team.