It was Monday morning and as I passed by the Beach Soccer Arena were I spent most of my evenings in the past week, I smiled at the beauty I experienced. It was the first time I was watching the Beach Soccer AFCON but I have been following for about 10 years.
The ~3000 seater arena hosted the Copa Lagos and the Beach Soccer AFCON where Nigeria lost to Senegal in the final but made it to the 2017 World Cup to be held in the Bahamas. We had a taste of Bahamas during the Beach Soccer event at the Eko Atlantic City – the Bahamas Beach Babes (cheerleaders). They had a way of sending the crowd crazy. I have already started making plans to be in Bahamas for the World Cup.
Since 2006, the Super Sand Eagles have been dominant in Africa, only outclassed by Senegal who now have 4 African titles. The Eagles have 2 titles but Africa have made little impact on the World Stage.
While the arena is dismantled, I began to ponder: why can’t I have this fun more often. Do I wait for another Cops Lagos to witness beach soccer? Why can’t we have a league – 3 to 6 months? Wait a minute, how were the 12 players selected to represent Nigeria? Because Abu Azeez, Isiaka Olawale, Ogbonna Okemiri play in the NPFL.
Beach Soccer is different from the Association Football you know that is played on grass or synthetic pitches. Beach Soccer is played on sand. Imagine waking on a dry sandy beach – the sands are against. It is not a smooth surface where you could give a through pass and expect the striker to latch on. The surface is uneven. A straight ball rolling towards the goalie can take a ruthless deflection off the sands to the bottom of the net.
Wouldn’t it be nice for us to have a league where we can enjoy the beauty of the game and more importantly choose the best beach soccer players in the country? Abu Azeez was called out of retirement to play in the BSAFCON. He was exceptional but does that signify he is irreplaceable? Abu would return to Enyimba soon and his settings will be changed to football on grass. Within 3 months, he would reset back to Beach Soccer for the World Cup.
We have to create a pool for us to get the best and not just do a 90 day camping in Badagry to choose the best. We need a beach soccer league. I know there are a couple of beach soccer teams across the nation but it is time to put beach soccer in perspective. We can’t continue to recycle our current national beach soccer players.
Captain Isiaka Olawale is a veteran and age is not on his side. He was not exceptional in 2016 like he was in 2009 and 2011 when he was Africa’s MVP and top scorer. Time is past and the evening is here for our great captain. We would need replacements. We need a league.
Do good to read the rules of the game from FIFA. You would enjoy it.