By RENALDO DORSETT
Following a visit by one of the leading beach soccer programmes in the FIFA community, the Bahamas Football Association and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture have strengthened their resolve in the lofty goal of hosting the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.
In an effort to increase the base knowledge of its coaches and players, the BFA conducted a beach soccer clinic with the Swiss national team last weekend, culminating with a courtesy call on Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr Daniel Johnson.
“It launches for us as a ministry and as a government, the possibility of us deepening our attempt to create venues, practice facilities, better and better national teams to one day perhaps making a push at hosting the FIFA World Cup of Beach Soccer,” Dr Johnson said.
“I want to put it on the table that it is our number one goal to host that on the beaches of the Bahamas and it was this visit that made me think that this is possible.”
Fred Lunn, vice president of the BFA, said the organisation continues to make “great strides” in the local development of the sport.
“We have submitted a bid to host the 2017 World Cup in the Bahamas,” he said. “With this particular workshop we have crammed into 2-3 days what would normally take about 5-6 days and we continue to make great strides. It was a pleasure for us to be able to play against the calibre of this team. They are ranked fourth in the world right now and are former champions in beach soccer. It allowed our players to see their dedication and commitment and the level we have to reach in the next year or two, so it was definitely beneficial for us.
Swiss national coach and FIFA instructor Angelo Schirinzi, and Swiss International Beach Soccer Player and FIFA player of the year 2009 Dejan Stankovic presented the course material.
It marked the third time that the BFA has conducted a beach soccer development programme.
Schirinzi said he could see the Bahamas hosting the Beach Soccer World Cup following his experience in Tahiti at the 2013 edition of the event.
“The Bahamas has the same situation as Tahiti so it has the potential to host the World Cup. You have the same infrastructure here, even better, because in Tahiti they have only small beaches. They had to put sand in the stadium, they could not train, they had to go to Switzerland to train, but here, you have wonderful beaches and good athletes so everything is possible. Now it’s up to the coaches and the training and the BFA in bringing the World Cup here,” he said. “The BFA treated us like family. We had a great time with the national team. We trained together, we coached together, did some presentations together.”
In a press release, the BFA said it continues to “recognise that as the sport grows and develops the seminar aims to promote this young and attractive style of football to our coaches and players.”
Through practical sessions, participating coaches were able to learn different helpful tools for the sustainable development of beach soccer, while players will develop skills that can be transferred to futsal and grass soccer.
“All of the young persons here have been excited to have you. I’ve seen the information on what Tahiti pulled off and if a nation smaller than the Bahamas can pull off something as magnificent as that, we have no doubt that we are up to the task, said Tim Munnings, the director of sports.
National team standout and co-founder of the Quality Beach Soccer Club Ehren Hanna shared his insight on the seminar. “They brought and shared a level of experience to our team, the programme in the country. Right now beach soccer is one of the fastest growing sports in the country and we want to keep the sport going,” he said. “We will continue to garner support from the community and keep raising the profile of the sport.”