With the Beach Soccer World Cup recently kicking off in Tahiti – albeit without Australia who were knocked out in qualification – it is high time to put the spotlight on the sport which takes soccer to the beach.This sport has also become very popular with young kids, who enjoy playing on a soft sand surface wearing kids swimwear.
History of Beach Soccer
Beach soccer has been around for a long time, played by friends or families on the beach or non-professional teams. All you need to play is sports swimwear and a ball. It was only in 1992 where it was officially introduced by Beach Soccer Worldwide. It was an attempt to construct the official rules and boundaries in which the game would professionally be played. It is still going strong today and is ever-growing in popularity. The Beach Soccer World Cup was an annual event between 1995 and 2004 but was always played in Brazil, where the game was incepted. It became global and the even visited France and the United Arab Emirates between 2005 and 2009. After this, the event became biennial being held in Italy, Tahiti and Italy.
Notable ex-association soccer players to play beach soccer are Dejan Stankovic and Eric Cantona.
Beach Soccer Rules
The game follows the same gameplay as football, but has different rules tailored to faster, more attacking beach play. These are:
- The pitch is to be between 35m x 26m and 37m x 28m. The goalkeeper area is 9m each side of the pitch.
- The goal size is 5.5m wide x 2.2m high.
- There are five players allowed on the pitch at one time per team, with unlimited substitutions from 3-5 available players.
- No footwear is allowed.
- Each match is 36 minutes in length, split into thirds of twelve minutes. Extra time is 3 minutes and, if necessary, a penalty shootout.
- Free kicks must be taken by the fouled player.
- Yellow cards can be issued, which result in a 2-minute suspension from play. A red card is permanent suspension, although the player can be replaced after 2 minutes.
Beach soccer provides a high tempo and attacking alternative to association soccer. This is as expected on the smaller pitch with fewer players. I Despite beach soccer being under half the time of an association soccer match, it can produce matches of high scoring such as the opening game of the current world cup where Paraguay beat Ivory Coast 10-6. It is this fast style of play that makes it entertaining to both watch and to play in; further showing why it has grown in popularity. It is an intense game of technical ability and fitness – anyone who has ever run on sand will know how hard it is!
Other Games to Play
Of course, it may be hard for a family to get a group of 10 players and a spare 37m x 28m place on the beach! There are more, simplistic versions which can be played. The more likely game would be the generic one goalkeeper and x-amount of players all trying to score past him. It is customisable in that the goal can be any size – chosen at will – and the game can be played as a tournament between players. There can also be whatever clothing you choose, so get some comfortable children’s swimwear for the kids, or some sports bikinis for adult participants.
You can also play ‘keepie uppie’ – the sign of players with good control. The goal is to keep the ball airborne for as long as possible. You’ll usually see this on the beaches at Copacabana but maybe soon at Perth!
So whether you are gearing up for professional play or just a kick-about, you should be prepared now for sun, sand and soccer!