Monrovia – Although beach soccer, also known as beach football or BEASAL was standardized in the early 90s, Liberia concluded its first-ever beach soccer tournament from April 30 to May 1 in West Point.
The Liberia Football Association (LFA) organized the two-day event without a proper training for players, coaches and technicians where football is the number one sport but much leave to be desired.
LFA vice president Musa Shannon, who played professional football for FC Maritimo in Portugal from 1999-2001, took the kick-off after the pre-match formalities.
Shannon was accompanied to the slum community by executive committee members Wallace Weiah and Ansu Dulleh (who is fast becoming LFA Prime Minister); technical director Henry Brown and deputy technical director Kaetu Smith.
Addressing a news conference at the LFA on April 28, Brown may have confused the regular football that is played on beaches in many communities with beach soccer.
“I know everybody has been playing football [on the beach] or beach soccer before but we want to take it to another level,” Brown said.
In response to a question from Christopher Walker of Sky FM on whether the players and technicians were aware of the rules, Brown said: “All of the teams’ layers have been to a seminar we organized in 2011.”
But Weiah added that all of the teams have been playing beach soccer although there is arguably no trace of any beach soccer tournament being organized in Liberia by any group or individual.
The tournament has come and gone but its impromptu manner, form, style and shape leave one to wonder whether our public officials are really running out of ideas, plan to fail or fail to plan.
“This is the inaugural tournament and this tournament is being fully funded by the Liberia Football Association. This is intended to generate interest and some type of popularity in beach soccer. From the success of this weekend, we hope that we will be able to attract people who have interest in beach soccer,” Shannon told the press conference.
But how will interest be generated when the concept of beginning a virgin sport crashed shortly after it took-off from the runway? Were there proper trainings and publicity? I don’t think so!
What is BEASALl?
Beach soccer or beasal is a variant of association football played on a beach or some form of sand. The game emphasizes skill, agility and shooting at goal.
Whilst football has been played informally on beaches for many years, the introduction of beach soccer was an attempt to codify rules for the game.
This was done in 1992 by the founders of Beach Soccer Worldwide, a company set up to develop the sport and responsible for the majority of its tournaments to this day.
This was a major foundation for what is now known as beach soccer and what has led to the sport rapidly growing in popularity.
The irregularity of the soft-sand playing surface leads to a totally different style of play than is used in football, with a greater degree of improvisation.
The compact field, much smaller than a normal football field, allows players to score from anywhere on the sand, leading to an average of sixty attempts at goal in a single game.
With an average of scoring rate of one goal every three or four minutes, around eleven goals are scored in total per game.
Each team consists of five players, including the goalkeeper and an unlimited number of substitutions, from a selection of three to five players. Throw-ins and kick-ins mean the pace and flow of the game are much faster than regular football.
Shoes are not allowed, although ankle guards are permitted. Goal kicks are taken by the goalkeeper using their hands to throw the ball.
A game lasts thirty-six minutes, and is split up into three twelve-minute periods.
Unlike association football, in professional matches the referee is not the sole arbiter of the end of a period.
A separate timekeeping official controls the official game clock, which is stopped for stoppages in play, and typically counts down to zero, as in North American sports such as basketball and ice hockey.
Every beach soccer match is won by one team, with the game going into three minutes of extra time, followed by a penalty shootout if the score is still on level terms after normal time. Unlike football, penalty kicks are decided by sudden death rules.
Four referees officiate the match, two on the field and one off, controlling the teams’ benches. The fourth referee is called timekeeper and is controlling the stopwatch on the side.
Any fouls committed lead to a free kick on goal, which has to be taken by the player who was fouled, unless awarded for deliberate handling.
As in football, yellow and red cards can be issued. However unlike in the main game, when a player receives a yellow card they must leave the field for two minutes and the team must play without that player for that duration of time.
When a player receives a red card, they are dismissed from the game entirely. Unlike in an 11-a-side football, the team can bring on a substitute to replace the dismissed player after two minutes.
A beach soccer field is considerably smaller than a regular football field. In international competition, the field is composed entirely of sand and is cleared of pebbles and seashells, along with any other objects which could injure a player.
The field is rectangular in shape, and the touch line is longer than the goal line.
The field dimensions are: Length: 35–37 metres (38.3–40.5 yards)
Width: 26–28 metres (28.4–30.6 yards)
The penalty area is within 9 m (9.8 yards) of the goals, and is marked by a yellow flag situated in touch.
Two red flags opposite each other are at the center of the field to represent the half-way line.
The goals are slightly smaller than their standard association football counterparts, being 2.2 metres (7 ft 3 in) from the ground to the bottom of the crossbar and 5.5 metres (18 ft) in width between the inside of each upright.
Danesius Marteh, email@example.com