By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
Just hours away from tipoff, The Bahamas Beach Soccer Cup aims to provide an opportunity to reintroduce the game to the local public and the region, with a specific focus on the women’s programme.
While the men’s national team has had many milestone moments - such as the 2017 Beach Soccer World Cup and CONCACAF Championships - this weekend’s event will provide the first opportunity for the women in the local spotlight.
Competition begins tonight at the National Beach Soccer Stadium when the women open the tournament against Turks and Caicos at 6pm.
Head coach Daria Adderley said the team, ranked no.18 by Beach Soccer Worldwide, is eager to take the pitch before the home crowd.
“I don’t think The Bahamas realises that they have women that are playing beach soccer and they can be fantastic and wowing just like the men. I think we are going to come out, showcase ourselves and prove to The Bahamas that we are a force to be reckoned with,” she said.
“We have some new players that have joined and this will be their first international competition. We also have veteran players, but they are young. We may have a veteran that is 19 years old but they have been playing for years and have had maybe three international competitions this year. So those players along with the newcomers have our spirits high. The chemistry is really great with the ladies and we are really excited to come out and showcase ourselves.”
The programme has existed for just three years, and like all sports, lost significant traction the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first team was established in 2019 to compete in the World Beach Game Qualifier in El Salvador. The most recent competition was at the El Salvador Beach Soccer Cup in April where the team had a -8 goal differential against the United States, Argentina and El Salvador.
“Our last competition was the El Salvador Beach Cup, we have been on a little hiatus for a while so it has been about seven months for us since international competition,” Adderley said.
“This is our first international tournament here in The Bahamas so for the women here that will be playing, they are very excited to have the country see them perform.”
BFA vice president, chairman of beach soccer committee, head coach men’s team and former national player Gavin Christie, reflects on the two-year hiatus due to the global pandemic and is grateful to see the sport re-emerge on Bahamian sand.
The men make their tournament debut at 8:30pm tonight against Trinidad and Tobago.
“It’s never easy in training to replicate game situations and we haven’t played at a high level for the last two years due to COVID. We tried to replicate as best we can, game situations but the good thing is that we have an experienced team that has played at a high level for many, many years and I expect them to adapt fairly quickly. There may be some ups and downs, that’s expected in every game, but they should be able to adapt quickly due to the experience,” he said.
“We do have a few newer faces and younger players and this tournament will be a very good experience for them. They may have some challenges adapting to the speed of play, the level of play but my veterans I expect them to perform at a high level.”
Beyond this weekend’s current tournament, the programme’s ultimate goal is to qualify for elite level competition against the best national teams in the world.
“We’re looking to put a full programme in place,” Christie said. “Our goal has always been to qualify for the World Cup. The qualifying is in May of 2023 so we would have to put a substantial programme in place to ensure that we are ready for that.”
ALIV is the Conch Shell Title Sponsor and the Sand Dollar Silver sponsor is Bamboo Shack.
Additional sponsors for the BFA’s 2022 ALIV Beach Soccer Cup include Simplified Lending, Atlantis, Jimmy’s Wines & Spirits, Tito’s and Insurance Management.
Admission is free of charge to the general public. Gates Open at 4pm.
6pm - Trinidad and Tobago vs Turks and Caicos (Women)
7.15pm - Costa Rica vs Colombia
8:30pm - Trinidad and Tobago vs Bahamas
Saturday, October 22
6pm - Bahamas vs Turks and Caicos (Women)
7:15pm - Colombia vs Trinidad and Tobago
8:30pm - Bahamas vs Costa Rica
Sunday, October 23
6pm - Bahamas vs Trinidad and Tobago (Women)
7:15pm - Costa Rica vs Trinidad and Tobago
8:30pm - Bahamas vs Colombia