Photo Credit: OFC Media
The OFC Beach Soccer Nations Cup 2023 kicks off next week and as the excitement builds and the sports’ popularity soars, we take a look at what makes it one of the most thrilling forms of the beautiful game.
Beach Soccer is thought to have its’ origins as far back as the late 19th century but it wasn’t until 1957 that the first official beach soccer tournaments were held, in Brazil. It would nearly another 50 years before the first unofficial World Cup took place in 1995.
Since the mid-90s however, the sports’ popularity has gone from strength to strength, with the Beach Soccer Worldwide (BSWW) federation established – recognised by FIFA – to govern and organise World Cups and European championships.
The inaugural FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup was held in 2005 on the beautiful Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, with France beating Portugal in the final.
“For those new to beach soccer, something to keep an eye out for is the skill level of the players – especially the aerial side of the game. Exciting actions like bicycle kicks or flicking the ball up off the sand in order to volley a pass or shot are common in a match,” said OFC Head of Football Development, Paul Toohey.
“Look out also for the ‘beach bounce’, where the ball can make an unpredictable deviation off the sand, particularly from a free-kick – remember, all free-kicks are direct shots on goal! The goalkeepers too are worth looking out for. The top ‘keepers are able to control the tempo when in possession, linking with their team mates or even advancing up to half-way for a shot from distance!” Paul continued.
Split into three periods of 12 minutes, beach soccer is a fast and high-scoring affair, played across a sand pitch measuring between 35-37m long and 26-28m wide. Unlike in football, the game clock is paused in the event of a goal, a foul, an injury or if players are deemed to be time-wasting.
Five players take to the pitch for each team, with seven substitutes allowed and no limit on the number of changes that can be made. All changes, including those involving the goalkeeper, can be made during open play.
Other key elements of beach soccer to keep an eye out for include:
- The use of two referees, as well as a third official and timekeeper
- No draws! If the match is level at the end of the third period, then a 3-minute extra-time period is played and then penalty kicks if necessary.
- No defensive walls are permitted for free-kicks, with any free-kick to be taken by the player who was fouled
- Both throw-ins and kick-ins are allowed to restart play after the ball was gone out of bounds
Check out some of the best goals from 2022 to give you a flavour of what’s to come in Tahiti next week!