Photo Credit: OFC Media via Phototek
Angelo Schirinzi is renowned the world over as a Beach Soccer guru. The current coach of the Swiss national team has been instrumental in the development of the sport in Tahiti, an Island paradise that has become a powerhouse of the sport globally.
Schirinzi was brought in to coach the national side after Tahiti was selected as host nation for the 2013 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.
He led the team to the semi-finals, a narrow 5-3 loss to Russia before a heartbreaking defeat on penalties by Brazil in the 3rd and fourth place playoff after the match had finished 7-7.
Still, it was a remarkable achievement for the small Pacific Islands country that had only taken the sport seriously for a few years.
“It’s incredible this story they started 10 years ago with a plan. They set up Beach Soccer and what happened in 2013 they made a fantastic FIFA World Cup. Two years later there were in the final and again two years after that in 2017 which unfortunately they lost. But they had the FIFA World Player of the Year in Heimanu Taiarui and the best goalkeeper in the world with Jonathan Torohia in 2015,” Schirinzi said.
Now Schirinzi is back in Tahiti for this week’s OFC Nations Cup, it’s his second visit this year as part of his role as a FIFA Beach Soccer consultant. Schirinzi is passionate about Beach Soccer in Oceania and has spent time in Tonga and other Pacific Islands helping the sport develop.
“I was in Tonga a few months ago and it was a fantastic island (Ha’apai where Beach Soccer is played). It was a fantastic week. Of course they don’t have a big culture in football, but they have big hearts, and we trained a lot. I saw them improving now and I hope they can do what they learned there, and I think they will do a good job here.”
“To think that they have a whole group of islands with only 6000 people and there are 500 players, and they now have girls, boys, men, women playing the sport.”
Schirinzi is determined to help OFC and Member Associations grow the game of Beach Soccer throughout the Confederation. Fiji is back at the OFC Beach Soccer Nations Cup for the first time since 2011 and the Swiss guru would love to see more pacific countries invest and commit to the sport.
“I think all these Pacific islands have a lot of potential in Beach Soccer and this is natural playing the bare foot on the sand five against five. It is perfect for all the Pacific Islands,” Schirinzi said.
Schirinzi uses the Tahiti example as something tangible for all the Pacific Islands countries to aspire to.
“It is a fantastic story, and I can only give this message to all the islands in the Pacific. You can do a fantastic job in this form of football. It’s football but just on the sand and you can go to a World Cup and do well.”
Beach Soccer is fast, three 12-minute periods and the game is over in 36 minutes of action making for an entertaining product for the fans.
“Absolutely. You see a lot of bicycle kicks and a lot of goals, so it is fantastic for the spectators.”
Check out all the action at the OFC Beach Soccer Nations Cup via our live streams.