Tweed Daily News

Soccer on sand

SAND, surf and soccer - it's sensational!

The broad expanse of sand in front of the Kirra Surf Life Saving Club will be converted into two beach soccer fields for the inau- gural Southern Gold Coast Beach Soccer tournament which gets under way today.

Being run in conjunction with the Champions Cup field soccer tournament on the northern end of the Gold Coast, the Kirra event will be the first time formal beach soccer has been seen on the Gold Coast, and organisers are hoping that it might become a permanent fixture.

Yesterday one of the directors of the beach soccer tournament, Alan Marquez, was overseeing the marking out of the fields and the running of clinics for juniors to bring them up to speed with the differences between beach and field soccer.

Beach soccer, which Marquez said was huge in South America, was played on a 30m x 20m field with teams of 10.

Five players are allowed on the field at any one time, there are unlimited interchanges, and judging from the physical effort being displayed by players yesterday, the additional five players would get plenty of time on the beach pitch.

“The soft sand really tests skills and stamina,” Marquez said.

“Players must learn to lift the ball because surface doesn't allow for much dribbling of the ball on the sand.

“There are no off-sides and the play usually goes from end to end, with the 'keepers kept pretty busy.

“We play three 12-minute periods, but these might be shortened for the youngsters (under 10s and 11s).

“The balls are lighter and softer because the players are in bare feet.

“It's a great way for soccer players to keep their skill levels and fitness up over summer, and being played on the beach, there's plenty of opportunity to have a dip to cool off.

“Hopefully we can generate enough interest to develop a competition for the Gold Coast.

“Beach soccer even has its own World Cup.”

Marquez said there was scope for any future competitions to be mixed, and beach soccer had huge social appeal.

“It's a great way to get some exercise on the beach and have some fun as well,” Marquez said.

Competition gets under way this morning at Kirra, with matches being played through to about 4pm and then continuing through into tomorrow.

Who knows, if beach soccer kicks off, maybe Parko (Joel Parkinson) could be sharing his fav- ourite point with Pele!

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