BAREFOOT: The Beach Soccer Mag - Issue 12

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WORLD CUP SPECIAL RECAP Read all about the the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, held last November in Paraguay. Barefoot gives you an indepth analysis on how Portugal clinched, for the second time, the biggest honour in the beach soccer universe.


INTERVIEW WITH NIGEL DE JONG No matter you have played a FIFA World Cup Final, hundreds of games at the Premier League, Series A and the Champions League… When it comes to competing in beach soccer, even the most experienced top-class footballers have a hard time, as the Orange international explains…




The Best Player of 2019 talked with BAREFOOT to explain about the best year in his life.



What comes to your mind when you are named the Best Women’s Player in the World?



BEACH SOCCER STARS Beach soccer enjoyed yet another magical night in Dubai, a night on which the best of the year received their deserved awards in recognition of a stunning season.



The leading sports apparel brand becomes new BSWW Official Global Partner



Start your engines for 2020’s first competition!


Everything you need to know about the last edition of the Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup, with Iran retaining the throne



Doha hosted the maiden edition of a new Olympic event, in which beach soccer played a prominent role.




Recap of one of the most unique events of the season.



Get to know the story behind’s Africa’s top club.


Read about this Canadian beach soccer player, and published author, who will not let anything get between her and the sport she loves..


The Copenhagen BS goalkeeper who devotes his life to helping youngsters in a detention centre in Denmark.


The emblematic Spanish coach called it a day after more than three decades in beach soccer.


KICKING OFF Happy new 2020 to everybody. One year ago, we promised that 2019 would be the best year in history of the sport, and we fulfilled our promise. It was the perfect year to step boldly into a new era of beach soccer, to plan another unforgettable season, with more opportunities for progress for everyone and at every level. In this season that just commences, we have yet another ground-breaking year ahead of us, one that promises innovation and growth in beach soccer. The new rankings, new events and many other developments in our wonderful sport, will make 2020 something different. Towards the end of 2019 we welcomed more women’s national teams and unveiled a global club competition, which are set to keep growing this coming months. With another revolution in the ever-turning wheel that is beach soccer, we will see the second edition of the World Winners Cup, but an even bigger and better version than the one we enjoyed in 2019, as well as yet more participation in the women’s game, a process which has already been put in motion with the revealing of a World Ranking, as well as World Club Ranking for both genders. On top of that, we confirmed the host nation for the 2021 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, and the build-up to this event, to be held in Moscow, Russia, will be yet another exciting adventure. These are huge steps forward, and in the coming year, the next chapter of these incredible stories will be written, alongside the very first chapters of other beach soccer narratives. With all this in mind, strap yourselves in for what promises to be a thrilling ride into 2020…

Editorial Director Iñaki Uribarri Editor-in-Chief Matthew Mills Design Director Laura Cuscó Design Manager Adrian Velado Photographers Manuel Queimadelos José Manuel Álvarez Getty Images Sponsorship Pol Calvet Edited by Beach Soccer Worldwide, SL President Joan Cuscó

Joan Cuscó BSWW President




ONE LAST KISS Madjer bows out with the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in his hands.


SPEED MACHINE Brazil’s Mauricinho sprints down the line at the World Beach Games in Qatar.


PUT YOUR MEDALS IN THE AIR! The women from Spain (Gold), Great Britain (Silver) and Brazil (Bronze) show off their World Beach Games medals on the podium in Qatar.


AND THE WINNER IS... Portugal have their name engraved on their second FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.


CAPTAINS ASSEMBLE! The captains of the World Winners Cup teams pose for an epic group shot in Alanya, Turkey.





he world of beach soccer has new champions, after the 2017 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup champions, Brazil, were dethroned by perfect Portugal, who rounded off a spectacular season with the biggest prize of all. The global showdown took place in Asuncion, Paraguay between 21 November and 1 December 2019 and, just as they did on home sand in 2015, Mario Narciso’s super squad lifted the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup for the second time, successfully fending off late Italian attacks in the final. Russia came in third following a narrow victory over the Japanese in the play-off for bronze, while a bitterly disappointing campaign for Brazil saw them settle for fifth after crashing out in the quarter-

finals against familiar foes… The historic triumph for Portugal came just a month after their star number five, Jordan Santos, was recognised as the best player in the world in the Beach Soccer Stars gala in Dubai. He picked up the adidas Silver Ball for his efforts in Paraguay, while Japan’s Ozu took the Golden Ball. Be Martins joined his Portugal teammate on the podium to claim the adidas Bronze Ball. The deadly Italian duo, Gabriele Gori and Emmanuele Zurlo, took the adidas Golden and Silver Scorer awards, accumulating 26 goals between them, while the Bronze Scorer went to Russia’s Zemskov.

This year’s world championships were memorable for more reasons though, as Belarus secured their first ever appearance at the competition after a giant-slaying quest in the European Qualifier in Moscow, and we saw a joint-record number of goals fly in, matching the 2006 total of 286! A moment of sadness rounded off the event and tears were shed after the final, as Madjer, for many the best beach soccer player of all time, bowed out of the sport with the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup under his arm. The world title is won and lost The Paraguayan hosts kicked off their campaign against Asian champions Japan, but lost narrowly after a late Tabata goal. Japan

sealed two more normal time wins to end Group A on top, while Switzerland took second and Paraguay joined a winless USA in exiting the competition. Group B was a tantalizingly close affair as three sides, Italy, Uruguay and Tahiti ended the stage on six points, with the fourth team Mexico, like their Concacaf companions USA, finishing the event without any points. The finest of margins decided the teams in the next round, as Italy and Uruguay went through ahead of Tahiti on goal difference. Former champions Russia and African kings Senegal each took two wins in Group C to end on six points each, disappointing debutants


Belarus and runners-up of the Asian qualifier, UAE, in the process. The Portuguese-speaking powerhouses, Brazil and Portugal, made for uncomfortable groupmates for Oman and Nigeria, but Brazil edged a 16-goal meeting between the two previous world champions to top Group D. However, the journey would end in their next game when they met old rivals and two-time World champions Russia in the quarterfinals, while three incredibly narrow ties saw Portugal down Senegal, Japan squeeze past Uruguay and Italy knock out Switzerland to join the Russians in the semi-finals. An extra time Zurlo strike sent Russia out of the competition and

Italy into the final, while the would-be champions Portugal just managed to edge past the Japanese after penalties. However, the Portugal in the final was a different team, and the European champions controlled the game for the majority of the time, building a 5-1 lead as the matcg neared the final minutes, thanks to a hat-trick from the recently-name Best Player in the World, Jordan Santos. The Azzurri rallied in the dying moments, with Ramacciotti smashing in two and the 2019 Rising Star Josep Jr getting on the scoresheet, but Portugal were too far ahead and erupted into wild celebrations and tears of joy at the sound of the final whistle, with the score at 6-4.

Portugal lifted their 2nd FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Paraguay

The Bane of the Brazilians The Team of the Quinas may have retaken the world title, but ahead of this edition of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup beginning, very few would have been able to look beyond top-form Gilberto Costa’s Brazilians for the this year’s FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup title. The Verdeamarela seemed to be in their best shape ahead of the World Cup, having impressed in the World Beach Games in Qatar just one moth before.

end at the hands of the Russians at the Intercontinental Cup Dubai in November of 2018.

The defending champions had taken the previous edition in the Bahamas in 2017, and since then, had made short work of their opponents in the competitions that followed.

It was fate that the two would meet again before long, and the showdown fell on the quarter-finals in the Estadio Mundialista Los Pynandi.

That was until their 66-match winning streak came to a dramatic

The last time that these sides met at this stage of the competition

Russia went on to lose to Iran in the final, but Brazil had been ousted from their Intercontinental throne. Qualification went smoothly for the old rivals, as an unbeaten Russia breezed to an incredible title in the European Qualifier in Moscow, and Brazil did the same in South America.


Russia knocked out the favourites Brazil in the quarter-finals, just as they did in 2015

was in 2015, coincidentally the last time Portugal claimed lifted the trophy, and Russia came out on top thanks to a single goal. In a nightmare example of history repeating itself for Brazil, 2019 went the same way, with a late strike from Krill Romanov dashing Canarinha hopes of title retention. Again, the Russians went on to lose in the next round, an 8-7 thriller against Italy, but they had done the sides that remained in the competition a huge favour in knocking out Brazil who, it seems, have a real issue when it comes to facing these particular European rivals… Madjer bows out in style The euphoria of the Portuguese victory subsided for the players a little when Madjer, draped in a Portugal flag, addressed the media with the following words… “A big hug to Portuguese people, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the support you have given me throughout my career. I owe a lot to you, I owe a lot to this team, I owe a lot to everyone. Today was my last game...” At this point, he was cut short by his own emotions as the tears began to flow. “...I want to thank all the Portuguese people, all my colleagues, coaches, all the staff, people who worked with me until today.” “I leave happy, fulfilled, proud to be Portuguese, and above all proud of this family that has been building more beautiful beach soccer, with fair play around the world. Thank you, Portuguese pride!” Some suspected that this news may have been coming, but it is still difficult for the world of beach soccer to believe that the legend of sport, arguably the best ever, won’t be gracing the sand for Portugal anymore. His career is lined with trophies and individual awards, and his sendoff came on the biggest beach soccer stage of all, poignantly in the competition that he leads the all-time top scorer charts with 88 goals – more than double that of the player in second position, Italy’s Gabriele Gori. The 2019 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup signalled the end of an era for some, and the beginning of one for others. It saw the reign of Brazilian dominance called into question by a rampant Portugal, who slashed the points difference between them and their South American rivals in the world ranking, and it also witnessed new teams break into the elite, challenging and competing with the sport’s biggest names. This was a year like no other in beach soccer, and it opens the door nicely for the season to come…





hree teams now share three Intercontinental Cup titles as Iran claim their record-equaling victory

The 2019 edition of the Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup saw four teams record or match their best ever finishes in the competition, while the other four recorded their worst or joint-worst finishes. Russia (4th), Egypt (6th), Italy (7th) and Mexico (8th) all finished in their lowest ever position while Iran remained undefeated to claim the title, Spain improved on last year’s sixth-place to finish runnersup. Japan had finished in seventh in their previous two appearances but took fifth in this year’s edition while UAE repeated their heroics on 2013 to take bronze. However, there was no stopping Iran, who relished the absence of the at-the-time world champions Brazil, to go unbeaten all the way to the podium for a second year running.

They were made to sweat at the penalty spot twice though, once by their old Russian rivals and a little more surprisingly at the hands of their Emirati hosts, and in their 2019 success, the Persians secured more than just a trophy… Three is a magic number Their 2019 triumph means that Iran match the records of beach soccer giants Russia and Brazil with three Intercontinental Cup titles. These are the only three teams to have lifted the trophy out of the 19 nations to have competed over the nine editions. The Iranian side kicked off their seventh appearance in Dubai by dispatching Mexico, who have never finished above sixth in their five appearances in the competition. Their next test in Group B came against Egypt where they won 5-3 and, as Russia also took a second win, both sides made the semi-finals with a group match still to play.


The two former winners played each other on day three, where Iran scraped a point from the penalty spot, but suffered a huge setback when they lost Amir Akbari – who amazingly went on to win the Top Scorer award after just playing two and a half matches! – to a nasty elbow injury. Things were much tighter in the other group, with only Spain having secured a semi-final place on day two, and the last spot in the final four was still open for Japan or UAE. It was the second time that these two sides had faced off in a high-stakes match this year, the last time being in the final of the AFC Championship where both teams qualified for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2019. Japan had edged that meeting to lift the trophy but, after Oba took the lead in the final period, a bizarre Matsuda own goal forced extra time, then penalties, and finally it was the Emirati hosts who

kept calm to snatch the remaining semi-final place. The knockout ties matched Spain, who had only made their debut in Dubai the previous year, against three-time champs Russia, and defending champions Iran against hosts UAE… UAE shock Russia to match best ever finish The hosts had suffered their worst ever finish in Dubai in the previous edition of the Intercontinental Cup, matching their 2016 performance to finish in seventh. However, the 2019 event saw the same players, but a very different beach soccer force take to the sand. Their season had started strongly by finishing as Asia’s runners-up to make the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, missing out narrowly on the trophy to Japan in the final, and Dubai saw them perform at the highest level. The United Arab Emirates’ first match came against Spain where


they were considered underdogs but managed to force extra time. They eventually missed out on penalties but had come within touching distance of upsetting one of the world’s top teams.

elation of the players and coaches was clear to see, and they will be keenly aware of how close they were to going even further in the competition against truly formidable competition.

The next day they repeated the brilliant performance, going one step further but knocking 2018 European champions Italy out of the competition, and on day three they did the same to Japan from the penalty spot to make the final four.

Playing crucial roles in the Emirati success were Waleed Beshr and Mohamad Al Jasmi, who not only took home bronze medals, but the MVP and Best Goalkeeper trophies as well.

In their semi-final showdown they fell the wrong side of penalty shootout number three against would-be champions Iran, showing just how close the competition was this year. But, arguably their greatest achievement of the campaign, was beating Russia 2-1 in the play-off for bronze. The last time that UAE finished in third place was 2013 and the

Iran overpower La Roja in the final After finishing in a disappointing sixth place last year, Spain had pushed their way past their Intercontinental rivals to make it all the way to the final, where they met veterans, Iran. But the already two-time winners of the title, and holders of the Intercontinental Cup proved too much to handle for Joaquin Alonso’s men. Kiani drove in the first for the Persians after three

minutes. Before long, the defending champions were two ahead thanks to a goal of the tournament contender from Piramoun. But with just a minute of the first period left, La Roja showed their teeth with two quick strikes from the Catalan double, Llorenç and Eduard Suarez, bringing them back to 2-2. Adri Frutos then pushed Joaquin Alonso’s men ahead for the first time in the match, until Mokhtari converted to level up. Iran then retook their initial lead when goalkeeper Hamid drove a blistering strike past his opposite number. Ahmadzadeh and Masoumi then pushed their lead to 6-3 and Spain were unable to claw their way back into the final. Iran saw out a comfortable victory to retain an historic title, matching the Russian and Brazilian records of three Intercontinental Cups!

In the play-offs, Japan, another side who recorded their best ever finish, put seven past Egypt to cement their hard-earned fifth place, while Italy, who went on to finish runners-up in the 2019 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, confirmed Mexico’s winless run through the tournament with a late Zurlo penalty, to take seventh. Nine Intercontinental editions have now been fought and the title are split equally three ways between Brazil, Russia and now Iran. With next year seeing no World Cup being held, Brazil will surely return intent on pulling ahead of their rivals in the competition. But Russia will be eager to reclaim the crown that they last won in 2015, while Iran could become the first ever team to win three back-to-back Intercontinental Cups. We’re already looking forward to celebrating a decade of one of the sport’s flagship events in Dubai, which has truly become a bastion of beach soccer.





ince the very first edition in 2014, Dubai has not only played host to what has become one of the most prestigious and prominent beach soccer competitions in the calendar, but also the one night of the year where the heroes of our sport step off the sand and onto the red carpet.

As he had done the previous year, His Excellency Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council, presented the first award of the evening which went to the European Games Minsk 2019 for the Best Event, and was accepted by the coach of the Belarus national team, Nico Alvarado.

We are talking of course, about the Beach Soccer Stars, the night that drops the curtain on the season by honouring the greatest achievers of the year gone by.

Vice President of the Spanish Football Federation, Mr Joan Soteras, then took to the stage to present the trophy for the Best Goal. The winner, as voted for by 50,000 beach soccer fans, was Ruben Batres from El Salvador, who fine effort from the half way line saw off stiff competition, to come out on top.

The 2019 edition took place in the same top-class venue as last year, the V Hotel in Dubai, and saw the addition of new awards and new faces, as the next generation of the sport’s top talent stepped into the spotlight.

After that, it was the return of two familiar faces to the stage as Alexander Alaev, Secretary General of the Russian Union of Football,


This year’s gala was the sixth edition of the Beach Soccer Stars in Dubai

handed over a third consecutive Best Coach trophy to the Brazilian, Gilberto Costa. As if often customary at the Beach Soccer Star gala, a former winner of the award handed over the trophy for the 2019 Rising Star, as Russia’s Boris Nikonorov presented Italy’s Josep Junior, following his impressive season with the Azzurri and various clubs. Then it was time to recognise the Best Goalkeeper, and after three years of nominations, it was finally the turn of Russia’s Maksim Chuzhkov to accept the award from another legend of beach soccer, Joaquin Alonso. A brand-new award then made its debut under the lights of Dubai, as Junior, the Brazilian footballing and beach soccer icon, accepted

the first ever Best Legend award from Beach Soccer Worldwide President, Joan Cusco. Then it was the dream team, the Best 5 Stars, who were then handed trophies. Alongside the three nominees for the Best Player, Gori (Italy), Rodrigo (Brazil) and Jordan (Portugal), there was the Best Goalkeeper Maksim Chuzhkov (Russia) as well as Ozu (Japan) – quite a formidable beach soccer force to behold… And then of course, it was time for the Best Player awards. The women’s trophy was presented by LaLiga’s Managing Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Maite Ventura, while Llorenç Gomez, the Best Player from the 2018 season, handed over the reigns to his successor…


Best Event 2nd European Games Minsk 2019 Olympic events always promise to be truly special, and the European Games that were held in Minsk in 2019 was the deserving claimants of the Best Event award to kick off the glittering show in Dubai. The award was presented by HE Saeed Hareb, and accepted by the Belarus national team coach, Nico Alvarado, who said that, “for us this award is so important, and is the fruit of all the work, effort and sacrifice that we all put into it. We a very happy to receive it.� The Belarusian capital put on a truly spectacular show for the second edition of the European Games, which saw Portugal claim the gold medal early on in their incredible season of success and who can forget the most memorable mascot Lesik the Fox who kept the party going from start to finish.

Best Goal Batres (El Salvador) In the one award where the general public have their say, a sublime strike from El Salvador’s Ruben Batres was voted as the Best Goal of the 2019 season. In accepting the award, Batres said, “I am very proud to receive this award. It was amazing to score such an important goal against Mexico in my home country where we eventually qualified for the World Beach Games.” Following the spectacular overhead from Spain’s Edu last year, the Salvadorian’s sweet hit is a worthy winner of the 2019 award.


Best Coach Gilberto Costa (Brazil) In what was a remarkable third consecutive year of receiving the award, Brazil’s coach Gilberto Costa was named as 2019’s Best Coach of the Year, moving one ahead of Portugal’s Mario Narciso who has two. This means that the Brazilian now has claimed half of the awards since the Beach Soccer Stars began in 2014, and has won every one that he has been nominated in the final three for. In accepting his trophy, Gilberto had a few words of unity for his counterparts… “For all coaches here, we need to work to see a professional beach soccer in the future. For men and women. We are together.”

Rising Star Josep Jr (Italy) The young Italian took to the stage in Dubai to accept the sixth Rising Star award after a sterling season with the Italian national team, in which he assisted the Azzurri in qualifying for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup (where they would make the final), as well as the World Beach Games Qatar. He follows in the footsteps of great beach soccer players including Rodrigo (Brazil), Boris Nikonorov (Russia), who presented the award, and Be Martins (Portugal). The Azzurri defender is the youngest ever winner of the award, being just 19 years old at the time of receiving the honour. “This is my first time in Dubai.” he stated, “and I would like to take this opportunity to thank my teammates in both the national team and at club level.”


Best Goalkeeper Maxim Chuzhkov (Russia) It was the first time that Maxim Chuzhkov had won the Best Goalkeeper award despite being included in the top three shortlist in each of the last three seasons. This edition of the Beach Soccer Stars was his year, and the Russian fought off competition from Italy’s Simone del Mestre and Brazil’s Mao, who has also been nominated for the last three years running, to take home the trophy. “I feel truly proud to finally receive this award,” said the Russian shot-stopper. “Perhaps this is the best moment in my career and hopefully it won’t be the last time.”

BSWW Legend Junior (Brazil) A new award that was added to the running order of the 2019 Beach Soccer Stars gala was the Beach Soccer Worldwide Legend award, and BSWW President, Joan Cusco, handed it to none other than football and beach soccer icon, Junior. Having appeared in several world championships, both on grass and sand, the Brazilian reflected on his time when the sport was still young… “At the time I could never imagine that this sport would be big enough for people to make a living from it, and it makes me so proud to have been there right at the start. For me the best achievement for me was sowing a seed for this sport and seeing it grow.”


Best 5 Joining the Best Player, Jordan, and the Best Goalkeeper, Maksim Chuzhkov, to make up the perfect beach soccer side, was the Japanese phenomenon, Ozu Moreira, who has made five out of the six Best 5 selections. Then there were the other two nominees for the Best Player awards, Rodrigo (Brazil) and Gabriele Gori (Italy). This intimidating beach soccer selection was the first time that players from five different nations had been drawn together in the Best 5 Stars line-up.

Chuzhkov (RUS)





Jordan (POR)

Rodrigo (BRA)

Gori (ITA)


Best Women’s Player Carol (Spain) Carol Gonzalez was the first ever Spanish player to be nominated for the Best Women’s Player, alongside her fellow nominees Adriele from Brazil, as well as England’s Sarah Kempson, who won the first ever award in 2017. “This is not an individual award,” stated the star striker, “this is a team award. Without my teammates, both at my club and in the national team, I would not be here.” Carol has won almost every trophy in her path this season, starting at the Euro Winners Cup with Playas de San Javier (along with Sarah Kempson), where she won the MVP award. She then went on to contend against her fellow nominees at the World Beach Games in Qatar to claim the gold medal, with Kempson taking silver with Team GB and Adriele bronze with Brazil. The Spanish number nine rounded off her speech with a touching final note to “the most important person, who I do all of this for, my mum.”

Best Player Jordan (Portugal) An Olympic gold medal, another European title and, since the award ceremony in November, a second FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup title. Portugal also retained the Mundialito, while at club level Jordan also won the Mundialito de Clubes and the Euro Winners Cup with SC Braga. In all of these competitions he accumulated four MVP awards, a Top Scorer trophy and the adidas Silver Ball at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. It is easy to see why this phenomenal player, whose has performed at such a high level throughout the 2019 season, was awarded the biggest individual honour of all, and he had some fitting words to close the gala… “I’d like to thank the organisation, my teammates from both the Portugal national team and from SC Braga – the best club in the world! – as well as all the coaches and of course my family.”




t the start of 2019, when asked about the season ahead of him and the Portuguese national beach soccer team, Jordan Santos replied with four simple words: “This year is different.”

team competitions. I had a season without injuries and always at a high level, so yes, I thought it was possible, and I was so happy when it happened. I am so thankful for this.

Even in his wildest dreams he could never have imagined how much his words would become reality. Nine months later he is the proud owner of an Olympic gold medal, a second FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup title and, on top of that, he is now officially the best beach soccer player in the world.

How did the beach soccer journey begin for you? And what were the main steps in reaching this achievement? It started very early, I always played on the beach since I was a child, I lived close to the beach so I spent the whole summer playing on the sand. Then, the team Sotão from Nazare invited me to play. I was with them for one year, and I soon after I was called up to the national team. That was when it really started...then I developed year after year, until I reached this level.

Portugal also retained the Mundialito, won their debut CFA Belt and Road Championship in Haikou, China and a record sixth Euro Beach Soccer League. If these incredible feats weren’t enough, at club level Jordan also won the Mundialito de Clubes and the Euro Winners Cup with SC Braga. Throughout these tournaments he picked up four MVP awards, a Top Scorer trophy and the adidas Silver Ball at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. We did the original interview with Jordan before the end of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup just in case a disappoint performance tainted the responses. However, when an incredible Portugal side toppled the reigning Brazilians to lift the trophy, we simply had to get back in touch with Jordan. As a result, this interview in split into two sections one before and one after the World Cup…

Who was the first person you called after the ceremony finished? My family was at the ceremony with me, I spoke to them first, then the President of SC Braga and Mr. Fernando Gomes, President of the FPF and Dr. Pedro Dias, were the first to get in contact with me. For you personally, what was the stand-out moment for the season? The moment that won you the award. There were a number of important achievements that led me to the Minsk Gold Medal, European Championship, and the Euro Winners. I think they were the main reasons. How has your life changed since the award ceremony in Dubai? The responsibility has changed, I am now a reference for all players of the sport, I am more recognized in Portugal. Now I will be even better to prove that I was not the best by chance. My life has changed for the better.

Section 1 (Pre-World Cup) What does it feel like to have become a part of beach soccer history? It is genuinely a dream come true for me. It is very special to be in the select few in the world and joining them in being part of the history of the sport.

Is this your greatest achievement? Does it top the 2015 World Cup win? These two are my greatest achievements; it would be unfair to choose one because one is individual and the other collective. Without my team I could not have reached any of them. They are the two biggest accomplishments in my life.

Has it sunk in that you are the best player in the world? It has all happened very fast. I had little time to take it in before the World Cup began, and right after the ceremony my focus shifted totally to that new goal. I feel very happy and proud, but I have gained a great responsibility. And being the best in your profession…it is crazy.

No one has ever retained the Best Player of the Year award. Do you think that you could be the first? I think I have conditions for this, I am very ambitious and hardworking. I will not work specifically to beat this record, but if it happens naturally then so be it. I will continue to work hard and soon we will see... but I do believe it’s possible.

Honestly, did you expect the award? From the moment I was announced in the Top Three, I began to believe I could be, due to my performance in both club and national

What message would you give to new beach soccer players who one day hope to reach the very top as well? That they can dream, and never get carried away by the sadness of


‘‘I went through failure and in the end, I made it into history and today I am the best’’

the loss of a single game, or a bad day, because it’s only fleeting. The next day we have a new opportunity to get up, to train and play a new match and learn from our mistakes. You must believe in your dreams. I believed. I went through failure and in the end, I made it into history and today I am the best. After reaching the very top and winning everything, it must be difficult to envision achieving more. But what does the future look like for you in beach soccer? This is my challenge, to stay on top. As I said this award will not change my ambition, I will work more focused and even more enthusiastic to be able to stay for many years at the top of the sport, and be a reference for those who are starting the modality.

Section 2 (Post-World Cup)

Firstly, can you describe that feeling when the whistle went in the final against Italy? The feeling was a lot of emotion, a feeling that we had when we had just made history in Portugal, the best time ever. How was it different to what you felt when your name was announced as the Best Player in Dubai? It was a similar feeling in terms of personal pride and tremendous joy, but being World Champions weeks after being named the World’s Best Player is truly remarkable. Before the tournament started, did you believe that Brazil could be dethroned? We knew that Brazil were the favourites for the title, but we also knew that they were not invincible, and then it happened. It was a surprise, but of course, Russia also deserve credit for their strength. This year has been pretty incredible for you. But if we go back to the start of the season to the World Beach Games qualifier in Salou where Portugal failed to secure a place in Qatar, honestly…were you worried about the season? At the time I remember we were very sad, but not worried. Our feeling was that we wanted to work more to go back to the titles we were used to. Sometimes it’s important to start like this and then we can end up the way we did. Do you think that early setback made the performance of the team even better for the rest of the season? Yes, it was an eye-opener to us. We knew that if we wanted to do something, we had to work a lot harder to tackle the most stressful and important period. And finally, ill it be strange fighting to retain the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in 2021 without Madjer in the squad? Madjer has been our captain for many years, but we will have time to get used to his physical absence until the next World Cup even though we know that he will be always there with us.




n the night of 10 November, four years after her first ever international beach soccer competition, Carol González was named the Women’s Best Player in the world. Many things came to mind in that moment, but her family, her main support, was the first thing she thought about. Despite a long and successful career in football, which she still enjoys playing for Malaga, she achieves things in beach soccer that no other sport can provide. What does being the Best Player in the World mean to you? It is the reward for the hard work I have been putting in over all these years, since my first steps in beach soccer. And I do not consider it only an individual award, but a collective one, since without my teammates I would not been able to have won it. What did you feel when you heard your name at that very moment of the Beach Soccer Stars gala? I felt immense happiness. Being amongst the best three was already something huge for me, I couldn’t even believe it, and I was very nervous all the night. Being able to represent Spain in those awards was very important to me. I felt very proud to be able to do that. After receiving the trophy, we saw you give a very special dedication to your mum… What made you do that? I always dedicate my goals to my father, because he normally comes to watch me play in summer, and I wanted to dedicate something different to my mother. Especially because she deserves everything, she has always been there in the good and the bad moments, supporting me. Your father and your brother are football referees… Does this make you behave differently with referees on the pitch? Is it something you have been taught at home? Actually, yes. When you go to complain to a referee you think that they could be your family. They are just people and they are allowed to make mistakes, just like everybody else does. But I have to admit that, sometimes, in the heat of the competition, I don’t react well… Out of the hundreds of messages you received after being handed the award, which was the most special to you? Of course, all the messages coming from home always make me feel a lot of emotion. Also, with two of my best friends and teammates, Andrea Mirón and Sara Tui, we had agreed to call each other after the gala, whatever the result was, and well, we spoke at that moment and it was really special to me.

After all the celebrations and phone calls that night, you got to your hotel room, left the award on the table, and finally lay on the bed… What thoughts went your mind at that moment? Still today I don’t manage to understand all these things that have happened to me in just a matter of weeks: winning the gold medal at the World Beach Games, then the Best Player of the Year award… I guess that it will progressively sink in as time goes by… Do you think this award will help women’s beach soccer grow in Spain? Since 2016, when the Spanish national team began competing at an international level, more and more women’s competitions have been appearing. The team’s successes have contributed to that, too, and hopefully more and more girls will join, because it is a great sport, very attractive. It offers so many unique sensations, things that regular football cannot transmit. What is it that you like best about beach soccer? The atmosphere is so special. The people involved in it, the great experiences it brings you…. Both at a team and an individual level. Also, it is very demanding, you have to overcome not only tough opponents, but also specific conditions of the sand, the heat, the rain…. How do you define yourself? I am mainly a family person. I also like to work hard, humbly, and to help the people around me bring out the best in themselves. And as a player? I think I am a quick player, with a good ability to shoot. And I am also a fighter on the pitch. I never give up, no matter the result. I am also very self-demanding, and this is sometimes not good sometimes… Euro Winners Cup champion, World Beach Games gold medal, Best Player of the Year… Has 2019 been your best year? Without a doubt. If someone had told me before that I would achieve what I have achieved this year, I would never have believed it. But it is great to see hard work pay off… Football, and sports, is not always as rewarding as you would like it to be, considering the effort put in. And what do you want for the future? I just want to stay injury-free… I’ll take care of the rest.


PUMA will supply the official ball for all BSWW competitions



UMA and Beach Soccer Worldwide, the major sports entity behind the creation and growth of beach soccer, have signed a two-year agreement through which the leading sports apparel brand joins the world of beach soccer and becomes an Official Global Partner of BSWW. The agreement between PUMA and Beach Soccer World Wide confirms the shared vision of beach soccer as a unique sport within the football family, capable of reaching audiences and communities no other sport can, in the context of a toplevel, action-packed spectacle in whose DNA stunning skills, spectacular moves and flashy goals are ingrained. Both PUMA and Beach Soccer World Wide share a global vision that transcends the sports sphere itself, also embracing fashion and lifestyle with a fresh, global and modern scope. As of 2020, PUMA will not only supply the official balls for all BSWW competitions, but will also provide uniforms BSWW officials and entertainment crew. During the 2020 and the 2021 seasons, PUMA will also be granted brand visibility and activation rights at all BSWW events, with co-exclusivity on some assets together with the joint partner LaLiga, as well as complete access to BSWW ambassadors for campaigns and promotions. The Head of Sports Marketing - Teamsport, Manolo Schürman, explained the innovative relationship between both brands.“In Puma we believe that there should not be any football without PUMA, and no PUMA without football. And this is where beach soccer comes into scene. Beach Soccer is not only a part of football, but a unique sport in itself. And I think it is a great match between PUMA and Beach Soccer. Beach soccer requires a lot of skill and it is a very fast sport, just as we are Forever Faster as a Brand, always looking how to answer our consumer needs, always looking for innovation. This is why I think that this teaming up with Beach Soccer World Wide makes complete sense.” In a similar vein, Beach Soccer World Wide president, Joan Cusco, highlighted the importance of this agreement. “It is a great honour for us to team up with such a prestigious brand as PUMA, and we are delighted that they have seen the true value of beach soccer and everything the sport can offer. I am sure that both parties will be truly satisfied with the outcome of this agreement, and we really look forward to keeping our bond into the future”. Furthermore, PUMA is also an official partner of LaLiga, and the signing of this agreement reinforces the relationship between the three entities, and the trust in beach soccer as a unique asset within the sports and footballing world. The coming event in the Beach Soccer World Wide calendar, the Mundialito de Clubes will take place in Moscow between the 12 and 16 February, and will feature some of the features of this agreement, beginning with the much-anticipated official PUMA ball, to be revealed just before the event.




new era in the relationship between the Olympic and beach soccer families was inaugurated in October with the ANOC World Beach Games Qatar 2019. The event in the Qatari capital, which ran from 12 – 16 October, featuring 14 disciplines and athletes from 97 different countries, was the first ever edition and Beach soccer represented one of the main attractions at the Games. The Road to Qatar In the European Qualifier in Salou (Spain), which took place in May 2019, five of Europe’s men’s sides, Italy, Spain, Ukraine, Russia and Switzerland, made the cut, while Spain, Russia and England (who would compete as Great Britain in the Olympic event) claimed the women’s places for this first edition of the anticipated Olympic event.

There was a shock in Salou though, as Portugal, who went on to win the European Games gold medal in Minsk (Belarus) as well as the 2019 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Paraguay, crashed out of the running after losing to Ukraine in the fifth-place play-off. Both the men’s and women’s teams from Brazil and Paraguay travelled to Qatar to represent South America, along with a third men’s selection, Uruguay. The team with the shortest distance to travel to Doha was UAE, who represented the Asian continent alongside AFC Championship winners, Japan and the holders of the Intercontinental Cup, Iran. Back in June, Africa’s representation was selected for the event Senegal and Morocco took gold and silver in the African Beach Games in Sal, Cape Verde, to secure their places at the Games in

TRIKE GOLD IN DOHA Doha, with the Cape Verde’s women earning the women’s spot. Solomon Islands were the single representatives of Oceania, while from North America, qualifier hosts El Salvador and Mexico finished on top to make up the final places, bringing both men and women’s squads to the Arabian Peninsula. The draw for the Games took place in August and organised the nations into the following groups:

MEN: Group A: Brazil, Switzerland, UAE and Morocco Group B: Italy, Spain, Mexico and Solomon Islands Group C: Iran, Paraguay, Senegal and Ukraine Group D: Russia, Japan, Uruguay and El Salvador

WOMEN: Group A: Spain, Brazil, Cape Verde and Mexico Group B: Great Britain, Russia, USA and Paraguay Let the Games Begin Great Britain’s women, who had pulled off a brilliant turnaround to win the European Qualifier, cut the ribbon of the ground-breaking event with a tight 5-4 win over Paraguay, and three goals for Russia were enough to see them down their US rivals. There were more decisive wins for Spain and Brazil’s women who breezed past Mexico and Cape Verde, while in the men’s matches, the European sides dominated proceedings, when Italy (thanks to


The first ever ANOC World Beach Games men’s gold medals were claimed by Brazil’s men

a second hat-trick in as many days from Gabriele Gori), Spain, Russia and Switzerland saw off Solomon Islands, Mexico, EL Salvador and UAE. There were also wins for Iran, Senegal, Japan and Brazil, who defeated Ukraine, Paraguay, Uruguay and Morocco to take their first points. On day two, the winning and losing streaks continued for most teams, with one of the exceptions being the thrilling tie between Iran and Senegal, where Diagne, Diatta and Kiani all claimed hat-tricks to push the teams’ tallies to 8-8 after extra time, and a point was salvaged by the Iranians from the penalty spot. Paraguay subjected Ukraine to their second 5-4 loss in two days and in the women’s competition, another win for Team GB and Russia secured their places in the next round. A tight matchup between Brazil and Mexico saw the Canarinha ladies, who were making their competitive debut, just edge their rivals on penalties. Spain put ten past Cape Verde to secure the fourth semi-final spot. After the final day of group games, the semi-finals ties were confirmed. Great Britain would meet Brazil, while Spain and Russia would replay the last two finals of the European Championships, both of which had been claimed by the Russians. For the men, battles for the semi-final spots went right down to the wire, as another tantalizing Mediterranean battle in Group B saw Italy overcome Spain to earn a match against the world champions Brazil, who beat Switzerland in Group A. Iran’s match against Paraguay ended in triumph for the Persians, while were joined in their first knockout tie by Russia who wrung two nervy points out of Japan. In a replay of the 2018 Intercontinental Cup final, the sides clashed on the sands of Qatar to contest a place on the podium. Unlike in their meeting the previous year in Dubai, it was Russia who came out comfortably on top, while a tighter 13-goal spectacle saw Brazil knock Italy out to make the final. Gilberto, named as Coach of the Year for the third year running in 2019, had earned yet another tie against his old Russian rival Mikhail Likhachev. The last time the sides met, in the 2018 Intercontinental Cup, the Russians had ended the Brazilians 66-game winning streak… The Podium Tussle Undoubtedly the memories of the defeat at the hands of the Russians in their last meeting was still fresh in the minds of the players and coaches of Brazil, but it didn’t take long for the men in yellow to assert their dominance on the game, with Catarino nodding in the first and Rodrigo powering in a low shot to make it two in the first period. Brazil continued the offensive into the next period and Mauricinho netted a brilliant hat-trick within the space of two minutes to push the advantage to five. Russia showed that they weren’t going down without a fight though, as moments later, Paporotnyi pounded in their opener and then Zemskov turned in from close range to make it 2-5. But the persistent Brazilians came again and again, with Bokinha, Filipe and Lucao (a stunning volley that you need


to see if you haven’t already!) adding their names to the scoresheet in style. A last minute Makarov penalty made little difference to the final score, which finished at a very decisive 3-9 to the imperious Verdeamarela, who claimed the first ever World Beach Games gold medal, as a well-beaten Russia accepted silver. Yet more penalties decided the final place on the podium as Iran disappointed the 2018 EBSL winners, Italy, to take bronze, while in the women’s battle for gold, another classic beach soccer match up, saw two former European champions clash on the Qatari coast. Spain and Great Britain, the world’s two top ranked teams in the official World Ranking, fought a much tighter final than the men had, and La Roja managed to bag three goals in the first period to take control of the tie. The British women fought fiercely to pull themselves back to 3-2 in the second period but the reds held on stubbornly to the lead to see the game out. Perry Northeast’s ladies took hard-fought silver medals and Brazil bagged bronze against the two-time European champions Russia. The debutants managed to hang on to their slim 4-3 advantage, thanks to goals from Lorena (2), Adriele and Dani Barboza, until the end, joining Team GB and Spain on the podium. Not bad for the Brazilians considering that this was their first official beach soccer tournament, despite having the likes of club stars Adriele and Lele Villar (Player of the Year nominees) in their ranks. The ground-breaking first edition of the World Beach Games was a tremendous success that we can’t wait to see another edition of... Don’t worry, the wheel is already in motion for the next one. Stay tuned!

Spain’s women saw off Team GB in the final to clinch gold


The former Ajax, Manchester City, AC Milan and Dutch International tests his skills on the sands of Qatar



eginning his career in his hometown club Ajax, where he won the Eredivisie, the Dutch defensive midfielder has since played for such clubs as AC Milan, LA Galaxy and Galatasaray, as well as arguably his biggest achievement, winning the Premier League with Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City side in the 2011/12 season. He also made it all the way to the FIFA World Cup final in 2010 with the Dutch national team. His current team is local Doha side Al-Shahania. This meant that the Qatar resident couldn’t resist coming down to Katara Beach to check out the World Beach Games 2019 (11-16 October) for himself. After training with the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup champions, Brazil, we had the chance to talk to him about the impression the world’s best beach soccer side made on him. “They have been the best beach soccer team in the world for many years now and it was great to train with them. I came yesterday to have a little question round with them and then came back today. It’s been great fun.” “Hard though, and super competitive. Every football player always thinks they can play on sand but it’s really tough.” “They know how to compete at the highest level. I think every player, on grass, on the sand or on the street, they all want to win, you know? It’s great how they are so competitive, the way they give everything in training and that’s how they have to work, as champions.” “We play beach soccer in Holland, as well as foot-volley, so I know how to play a bit but it’s still so difficult. Seeing where and when the ball will bounce and when to lift the ball from the sand.” “The main difference [between beach and 11-aside football] is the uneven surface. You have to make sure the ball is always bouncing right.” “You have to have great quads! I mean, the legs have to be really strong! After playing five minutes, my legs were burning.” To round our chat off, we couldn’t resist asking about the possibility of seeing De Jong in the Dutch national beach soccer team… “Maybe. Maybe. Never say never. But for now, I’m here, I’m gonna support this tournament and the teams out here and hopefully we’ll have a great couple of days in Qatar.”




he beach soccer season begins on a high note: the seventh edition of the renowned Mundialito de Clubes and the second one to be fought outside of Brazil. The competition will take place between 12 and 16 February, and lands in Moscow’s Megasport Arena for the second year running with a stunning line-up. This includes defending champions SC Braga, who will see their crown contested by the likes of hosts and two-time champions BSC Lokomotiv Moscow, as well as the Railwaymen’s city rivals, Spartak Moscow.

The Brazilian giants CR Flamengo make their seventh appearance in the tournament (the only side to have competed in every edition) after having won the World Winners Cup in October. Can they add their first ever Mundialito title to the trophy cabinet? Making their fourth consecutive appearance are Spanish champions, Levante UD, while three debuting but powerful beach soccer clubs join the fray for the 2020 edition: Alanyabelediye Spor (TUR), Tokyo Verdy (JPN) and Grasshopper Club Zurich (SUI). The action is set to kick off on Wednesday 12 February, and after three days of Round Robin group stages, the top two clubs in each

Hosts Lokomotiv hold the most Mundialito de Clubes titles with two (2012 and 2017)

group will play the semi-finals, with the final being held on Sunday 16 February. The eight teams traveling to Russia for the Mundialito de Clubes were organised into two groups in a draw which took place at the RIA Novosti headquarters in Moscow on Tuesday 21 January. Levante (ESP), Tokyo Verde (JPN) and Alanyabelediye Spor (TUR) joined BSC Lokomotiv (RUS) in Group A. The defending champions SC Braga (POR) will face Spartak Moscow (RUS), CR Flamengo (BRA) and Grasshopper Zurich (SUI) in Group B.

Having won the last three Euro Winners Cups as well as the 2019 edition of the Mundialito de Clubes, Portuguese champions SC Braga will be many people’s favourites going into the 2020 edition. But with quality newcomers such as Tokyo Verdy, Grasshoppers and Alanyabelediye Spor keen to make a big impression, as well as the classic firepower that we have come to expect in the tournament, the title is far from won yet. The match schedule and the complete team rosters for the Mundialito de Clubes Moscow 2020 have already been released, and is available on the BSWW website.





he World Winners Cup made its debut in Alanya, Turkey between 21 and 27 October, welcoming both men’s and women’s sides from across the globe to fight for the latest edition to the list of beach soccer honours. For a first-time event, the World Winners Cup was a staggering success, bringing together the world’s top clubs and players, and it only promises to grow significantly in the coming editions.

five goals to three in the final, while their star keeper Andrade, from the Portuguese national side, took the award for Best Goalkeeper. Meizhou Hakka’s Leo Martins went home with the MVP trophy, while Filipe, after scoring no less than seven goals on the final day alone, overtook Gabriele Gori to bag the Top Scorer award with a remarkable 20 goals for the Alanya hosts.

The Brazilian side Flamengo lifted the men’s trophy on the final day, setting the bar high for future years by going undefeated, downing seven clubs from seven different nations in the process, to claim the crown.

In the women’s tournament, Pavia Lokrians from Italy topped the Round Robin group of five to secure a final against Polish club Lady Grembach, who they narrowly despatched with the help of MVP and Top Scorer Barbara Colodetti, as well as other recruits from the Brazilian national team.

They defeated Ramiro Amarelle’s Chinese side, Meizhou Hakka, by

Lady Grembach claimed the Best Goalkeeper, awarded to another

The first edition of the World Winners Cup was held in Alanya, Turkey

Brazilian, Ana Beatriz, as well as runner-up medals. A total of 24 teams (19 men’s and 5 women’s) descended on the Turkish coast to contest the first ever title of the global club showdown. A draw took place Tuesday 8 October in Alanya to organise the 19 men’s clubs into the following five groups: Group A: Alanya BS (TUR), Golsapoosh Yadz (IRN), Meizhou Hakka (CHN) Group B: Flamengo (BRA), Boca Gdansk (POL), Shahin Khazar (IRN), Al-Arabi (KUW) Group C: BSC Krylya Sovetov (RUS), Copenhagen BS (DEN), At. Licata (ITA), Masafi Al Wasat (IRQ) Group D: Levante UD (ESP), Napoli Patron (GRE), Real Münster (GER), Kebbi BSC (NGA)

Group E: BSC Vybor (UKR), Rostocker Robben (GER), New Team BS (BEL), BQ All Star Club (THA) The five women’s sides participating in the World Winners Cup were: WFC Zvezda (RUS), Lady Grembach Lodz (POL), Pavia Lokrians (ITA), Tokyo Lequios LD (JPN) and NorCal BS (USA), who played in one group. Local side Alanya BS were boosted by 2017’s Best Goalkeeper Peyman Hosseini, 2014’s Best Player Bruno Xavier, Brazilian international Filipe and Swiss superstar Dejan Stankovic. But despite all this firepower, they fell the wrong side of an amazing 19-goal battle against Meizhou Hakka, the Chinese side whose ranks boasted a number of beach soccer’s biggest names including


Pavia Lokrians won the women’s competition after a tight final against Lady Grembach

the Martins twins from Portugal, Spanish shot-stopper Dona and the recently-crowned world’s best player, Jordan Santos. In another of the opening matchday’s 11 games, Spanish champions Levante administered a devastating 15-0 defeat to Nigerian side Kebbi BSC and Flamengo kicked off their campaign with a 6-1 win over Kuwait’s Al Arabi. In the women’s group, 2018 European champions WFC Zvezda defeated US side NorCal on penalties, while a match which would be replayed in the final of the tournament, saw Pavia Lokrians snatch two points from Lady Grembach in extra time. By the final day of group stages, 19 teams were reduced to 16, as Al-Arabi, Atletico Licata and Kebbi BSC exited the competition, and after the first day of knockout matches just eight clubs remained in the running for the World Winners Cup. In the quarter-finals, Rostocker Robben were defeated by Amarelle’s Meizhou Hakka, Copenhagen BS were brushed aside by Shahin Khazar, Flamengo took a 4-2 win over Krylia Sovetov and Alanya BS were downed by nine Levante UD goals. The final four bouts saw Levante, who finished the Euro Winners Cup in third in 2019, knocked out painfully from the penalty spot by the more clinical Flamengo, while the as-of-yet undefeated Meizhou pounded in nine goals to dash Shahin Khazar hopes of silverware. At the same time that the men’s semi-finals were being played, Zvezda and NorCal (who finished third and fourth in the women’s group stage) met to contest third place, and the Russians came out on top once more. In the men’s final, the 2018 and 2019 Best Players went head to head, as a Llorenç-spearheaded Flamengo took on a Jordaninspired Meizhou Hakka, who started on the front foot with two early goals. Strikes from Paulinho, Igor, Llorenç and Eudim turned the match around and the Brazilian side made history in becoming the first ever winners of the World Winners Cup. Pavia Lokrians and Lady Grembach, whose Brazilian-bolstered squads had assisted their success so far, now had to face each other for a second time in the women’s final. Colodetti and Lele Villar each scored twice for the Italian side, who, despite two rockets from the tournament’s Best Goalkeeper Ana Be, just managed to hang on to the lead until the final whistle. Next year, the plan for the World Winners Cup is to go even bigger and even better than the first. Who, if anyone, will dethrone the first-ever World Winners champions?





oo cold? Never. Snowing? Don’t worry. No sand? No problem. This is the inspiring can-do attitude of NorCal’s Louise Arseneault. The Canadian has to go greater lengths than most to practice the sport that she loves. When you are from New Brunswick, Canada, finding the optimal conditions to train your beach soccer skills is a bit of a challenge. Actually, you have to make a huge effort to create them, instead... But if you really want it, no excuses will stop you for training, improving your beach soccer, pursuing your dream. This is exactly the spirit, the energy, running through Louise Arseneault’s veins. After a wide career in football, in which she even played professionally in Europe (Finland) and at the USA’s W-League with different clubs, beach soccer came across when some of her teammates in Nor Cal convinced her to give it a try. “I cannot say that first experience was too good, to be honest”

Louise admits. “It was very hard to get used to how the ball would behave on the sand, and it was really hard for me to do what I am best at: dribbling... It was kind of frustrating”. But at the same time, her athletic conditions surprised her more experienced teammates: “I had a good balance, and I still was fast on the sand. I immediately understood that if I wanted to succeed in beach soccer I would need to adapt my repertoire, I had to master the flick, the bicycle kick...” A sandbox in the backyard Soon afterwards, with those ideas in mind and the possibility of taking part in an international competition in the horizon, Louise had to go back to Canada. And that’s where the hardest part began: Training on your own, with no access to beach sand, and under the not-caribbean-like weather conditions of Northern New Brunswick, with temperatures dropping way below 0ºC and snow being a constant sight for many months...

The only sollution was to build a “beach” at home... So she convinced her father to build a sand pool in the backyard. Good old ...... and Louise drove the pick-up truck around town to find some suitable sand, and ended up in a cement factory nearby. They had tones of sand, the one they use to make cement, and agreed to sell the Arseneaults some of it. But not all the sand was good... The one in the surface was hard, frozen, compact. So Louise and her father had to break through the layer of ice and dig deep to finally find loose, dry sand they could use. Once they did, they filled as many buckets as they could fit in the truck, and drove back home to have their little “Copacabana” built in the Arseneaults’ backyard. “My family has been so supportive... I cannot thank them enough. Not only for building the sand pool and helping me cover and uncover it, but many times I have had my mum throwing balls at me so that I could practice my control...My mum kept joking, saying

that ‘I cannot believe I am still throwing balls to my 30-year-old daughter...” But that is not all, because imagination was definitely on hand to complete her training program. Besides her backyard, she also found a foam pit so to practice her bicycle kick. “I realized that I was not getting enough power from my bicycle kick, so I studied how the best in the sport did that. I watched videos of top class players, like Gabriele Gori, and realized I was not doing it right. I had to change my movement completely, what would take a lot of repetitions, so I had to find a way that would not be so harmful on my back...” Foam pit it is. Also, in summer time, Louise would also hang a long fabric in her backyard so that she could kick the ball as hard as possible without the danger of crashing the neighbour’s windows. Besides the support of her family, she was also receiving a lot of


Louise Arseneau NorCal (USA) in t of the World

ult competed with the maiden edition d Winners Cup

help all the way back from California, where her NorCal teammates kept pushing her forward and backing her in the process. “The girls were there for me all the time, specially Jeane (Sunseri-Wap). She was all the time telling me how to improve, what things to try, etc. I kept sending her videos so that she could see how I was progressing ad could correct what I was doing wrong. She has been awesome... I am very thankful.” First international experience After so much individual training, the time came to put herself, and the NorCal team, to the test, in the first ever World Winners Cup, held in Alanya (Turkey) late in 2019. “That was a phenomenal experience. I was very honoured to take part in that and to be the first Canadian woman to play at that international beach soccer level.” Despite the great opposition they faced, NorCal and Louise brought on a notable performance. “I didn’t know what to expect, because I had never faced those players, and I was surprised on how good they were. Before the competition I could only focus on getting there as fit as I could, to be up to the level I was going to be faced to. And it became a phenomenal challenge... It was a privilege being able to play against those girls, and see all the effort we had put onto that pay off”. A published author But Louise’s Not many (if any?) beach soccer players can say they have had a novel published, and this is another thing that makes Louise so unique... The paradigm of “mens sana in corpore sano”, and a new demonstration of her determination, her strong will to achieve her goals, and the constant look to improve she has turned her life into. “I always wanted to write, and my time in Finland gave me the opportunity to write my first book. I read a lot, and when I finished all the English books I could find in the library, I realized the time had come for me to contribute in my own way. As a professional athlete I had free time I could invest, and I managed to write a little bit everyday”. The Blackout, her first novel, is a story based on true events, and explains how Lucy, a 14-year-old girl was faced to a difficult situation when travelling alone in the middle of 2003’s North East Blackout, and needed all her self confidence and trusting her instinct to survive. “This is exactly what I try to transmit boys and girls when I speak in schools. I tell them to be always brave, to trust in themselves. Indeed, inspiring others is what gets her up every morning, what she does in her classes, in the training sessions she conducts, in the book presentations she is invited to and every time she is to be with a ball on her feet. Because all the lessons sport have taught her she is willing to transmit: “Sports have given me so many priceless learnings: you need attittude to face the challenges, perception to understand which road to take, teamwork to understand that helping your teammates is also helping you, making you better, and always putting yourself to the test, which is the only road to personal growth”. What does the future hold is something Louise is not much concerned about right now. “I would like to keep writing. It is something I love, and knowing that I will be an author for ever really thrills me. I don’t know when will my next book be ready, or how many books I will write in the future, but writing is definitely in my future plans. But coaching and sports are definitely something I see myself into in the future”. Wherever she might be, and in the way she chooses to do it, what is certain is that she will keep inspiring others to exceed their limitations to become the best version, just as she does every single day, by making herself an example.




t is difficult to miss Mik Wallin Skott, the man between the posts for Copenhagen BS, whether it is on the beach soccer field or off it. He is an enormous, muscular Viking of a man, with his arms and back covered in tattoos, and a long beard on his chin; his is the fierce look of a warrior.

youth teams. Coaching helped him stay connected to football, and he wanted to make the most of it, even getting the UEFA A License. But at some point, his job and his coaching career became incompatible. Then, in 2013 he had his first test on the sand, in a local competition in Copenhagen.

But beneath the gruff exterior and barrel-like chest, beats a big heart. This much is clear, as he spends much of his time, working to improve the lives of young people in a youth detention centre, trying to inspire them to fight, and overcome, the challenging circumstances they live under.

It was not until a couple of years later that he had the chance to experience beach soccer at its highest level, when he took part in the Euro Winners Cup with Copenhagen BS in Catania. “We were amazed by the level of the teams. We were unlucky to be drawn in the same groups as big teams such as BSC Chargers of Gyongyos, with Mauricinho and Bruno Malias, and we literally had no chance. But it was a great experience and a huge learning curve.”

Life inside the Sonderbro Sikret Institution is not easy. “You never know what kind of day you will have.” Sometimes, Mik and the rest of the staff find themselves in dangerous situations. “From time to time we need to get involved in fights, and sometimes we even suffer attacks with improvised weapons, like knives made out of toothbrushes. Fortunately, we have always managed to solve the problems.”

Little by little the team has been increasing their level, and ended up with a laudable top-8 finish in the World Winners Cup, held last October in Turkey. “We look forward to continuing to improve our beach soccer, and steadily obtain better results.”

Despite the difficulties and the tough environment, Mik loves his job, especially when he “forms a connection with one of the boys or girls. It’s when they listen to me, and I manage to inspire them somehow to find a reason to move on and lead a better life. This is what gets me up every morning.”

Bonding through beach soccer Actually, beach soccer represents a focal point of connection for Mik and the boys and girls at the centre. “They show real interest in my beach soccer, and even watch the games on TV or with me when I come back. They even make jokes when I concede many goals. It’s funny.”

The will to help those in difficult situations is what drives him in life. After he graduated in Social Education at the Professionshoejskolen Metropol UCC (Metropolitan University College) in Copenhagen, he joined the Sonderbro Sikret Institution, and he dreams of developing new social education programs to keep helping people through sport.

Being a beach soccer player for the national team only adds to the respect that the youngsters have for him. “They see me as a sportsman, something many of them would like to be, and that makes me closer to them. There is even one boy, 17 years old and good football player, that wants to try beach soccer as soon as he leaves the institution.”

A pioneer on the sand Alongside his life as a Social Educator, Mik also had time to become one of the pioneers of beach soccer in Denmark, as he was one of the players who formed a part of the first Danish national team, which made their debut in Sweden in 2013. He is also one of the founding members of his club side, Copenhagen BS.

Sport often has this strange power of breaking down even the most unyielding of barriers, and Mik has used beach soccer as a way to earn the trust of the young people in his care. “They can see I am on their side most of the time, I am there to help them, and I make it very clear that we are all equal, we are all human beings and that we need to take care of each other.”

The Danish keeper came across beach soccer a couple of years previous to this debut, after finishing his football career due to a groin injury. He played with Danish giants Brondby’s for many years, reaching the senior team at a very early age, but luck turned its back on him.

“This is why my main goal is for them to understand that they need to be passionate about something. This is the best way to find the proper path in life.”

“With the injury, I saw myself struggling all the time, and I no longer enjoyed playing. I couldn’t be myself on the pitch”, he explains. He swapped the goal line to the touchline, as he began to coach

Whatever your path or your objective is, having a Mik Wallen Skott by your side will always come in handy. Beach soccer will always be happy and proud to have this kind of person within our evergrowing family.

“Sometimes we have to get involved in fights, and we even suffer attacks with improvised knives or weapons�




he past season saw beach soccer take giant leaps forward on a global scale, with further presence at Olympic events such as the 2nd European Games and the inaugural World Beach Games, as well as the ground-breaking opening edition of a club competition open to teams from every corner of the planet, the World Winners Cup. But without the individual stories of growth, these huge steps could not be taken and it is well worth taking a moment to recognise the amazing journeys that go on in our sport every day. Nigeria-based, Taye Olajide, founder of BSmag and a huge beach soccer fan, took the time to speak to BAREFOOT and map out the journey of Nigerian club, Kebbi BSC, Africa’s top ranked team in

the official Club World Ranking, as they grew from a family group playing on the river banks, to competing against the world’s very best. The club’s status took a huge step when they travelled to Alanya, Turkey to compete in the maiden World Winners Cup in October 2019. Kebbi were the only team from Africa to compete and just weeks later, they took part in the latest edition of the Copa Lagos. It is a story of passion, commitment and belief, the perfect example of what our beautiful sport needs to keep growing at the rate it is. Here is a rundown of their development over the last five years

AFRICA’S TOP CLUB which saw Kebbi go from a small-town club to a global beach soccer team, as described by someone who was there every step of the way… 2015: The Kebbi Beach Soccer Club, Kebbi Fishers as they are commonly known, started out as a family get together, playing on the river banks in Zauro Town, outskirts of Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State. The initial purpose was to promote outdoor recreation, and beach soccer is the perfect cocktail of sport and nature. This attracted locals and young footballing talents, providing a unique platform never witnessed before for youth development in the region. This is how the annual Kebbi Beach Soccer Sallah Tournament

(KBSST) was born, with a clear potential for growth from the start. 2016: By the following year, locals and businesses became interested and excitement grew for the Beach Soccer event. Partnerships and sponsorships began to trickle in and it became apparent the club was moving in the right direction. Zauro locals were very excited about visitors to their town, as this boosted micro business. This was also when the club received formal affiliation with Kebbi State Football Association, which then secured the backing from the Nigerian Football Federation. 2017: This was the breakthrough year. The club’s annual event witnessed huge attendance, personalities including the State


The club started out as a family group playing on the banks of the Sokoto river

Executive Governor with his family, top officials of the Nigerian Football Federation and Football legends. The event featured teams from every part of the country, and later that year the club got an invite to the BSWW Copa Lagos Club Challenge. Ahead of this challenge, the Kebbi Fishers were given the chance to train with the Nigerian National Beach Soccer Team (Sand Eagles) which camped in Kebbi State. Some players of the club were called up in to the national team, a great motivation for the players of the club and showed how far the small-town players had come. With an opening match against Arsenal Beach Soccer Club at the 2017 Copa Lagos, everyone was shocked by the club’s performance as the underdogs. 2018: Kebbi Fishers now capturing the beach soccer world’s attention, it was time to bring international stars to Kebbi to help promote the brand. The club invited Aaron Clarke and Terry Bowes both England Beach Soccer Internationals to come and play for the Fishers in Kebbi during the annual holiday tournament. This edition also featured a guest team from Ghana; Sunset Sports. 2019: As part of its annual three-day tournament, which Kebbi won in 2019 for the first time. The club introduced the Emirates Cup; a grassroots competition designed for the four Emirates of Kebbi State to further promote homegrown beach soccer talent. This competition provided a unique platform for youths across the state to showcase their talents and look forward to being invited into the KBSC. Also, later that year, the club featured as the only African club in the maiden edition of World Winners Cup in Alanya Turkey, which proved to be great mileage and exposure, as well as a second appearance at the Copa Lagos. And finally, in the words of the Club Chairman; Mr Mahmud Hadejia. “looking back, we’ve seen remarkable progress so far and I congratulate players and officials of the club for this historical feat.“ “To our partners and sponsors including the Kebbi State Government, the Nigerian Football Federation, Cosgrove and Beach Soccer Worldwide, thank you for believing in us. Our mission is clear from the beginning and now being ranked No.1 on the African continent is just the start.” He concluded by inviting all beach soccer enthusiasts to Kebbi this May to experience the excitement of the Kebbi Beach Soccer Sallah Tournament, the culture and the city.




each soccer coaches, players and stakeholders attended a presentation at the Dubai Sport Council Headquarters on November the 9th to discuss the coming season, as well as changes to the rules of beach soccer. Senior officials from Beach Soccer Worldwide shared many new and exciting announcements concerning the coming year. First to speak was Vice-President, Mr Joan Cusco, and he opened the subject of the coming season. “We didn’t plan the calendar just for 2020, but also for 2021, because Russia will host the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in July of 2021.” “There is already talk of a potential second edition of the World Beach Games coming in 2021. Depending on where the next event is, the qualifiers should also be in 2020. We would like to expand the Euro Beach Soccer League but, with these things in mind, all

the the qualifiers might make it difficult.” He then turned to the game itself and proposed developments. “We need to continue to improve our audience and we are already seeing signs of it. Yesterday [Intercontinental Cup Matchday 4] there were 700 people who were turned away from the stadium because it was so full. I think this is the first time that we’ve had such numbers in Dubai.” Mr Cusco also had exciting news for the women’s game. “We are planning to make a women’s world championships, which one day could have the potential to become the Women’s FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.” Next was the turn of Deputy Vice-President, Mr Gabino Renales, who announced a number of fresh beach soccer events. “We will


be having new club events in the Canary Islands and Bali, with the structure yet to be confirmed, as well as a new edition of the World Winners Cup in Alanya, Turkey, which will take place a bit earlier in the year than the 2019 edition.” He then turned to international competitions, starting with news on the coming Euro Beach Soccer League “In 2020 we will return to four regular stage events, but we will make a specific Division B event”. The microphone was then taken up by Beach Soccer Worldwide’s Head of Competitions, Josep Ponset, who began discussion on a wide range of topics. “We would like to introduce you to brand new World Club Ranking. The first step was the World Winners Cup in Alanya and we currently have a total of 160 teams in this ranking.’’

He revealed the update to the women’s international teams ranking, and then opened a long debate into proposed alterations to the laws of goalkeeping in beach soccer. Coaches from some of the world’s best teams, including the three nominees for Best Coach of the Year: Brazil’s Gilberto, Switzerland’s Angelo Schirinzi and Belarus’ Nico Alvarado, offered their opinions on the matter and the debate lasted over an hour. The players in attendance also commented, including one of the most qualified to do so, Brazil’s legendary keeper, Mao. As the discussion moved on to other issues, including penalties, handballs and disciplinaries, time eventually ran out, and after a quick group photo, everyone filed out of the conference room to prepare for the final day of competition at the Intercontinental Cup in Dubai.


Brazil competed in their first Copa Lagos since the opening edition in 2011



ne of beach soccer’s most renowned events returned to the Nigerian coast and the party picked up right where it left off…

After a year out in 2018, the Copa Lagos is well and truly back with a bang. Four of the world’s top beach soccer nations came together on the sands of Nigeria to contend the eighth edition of one of Africa’s flagship beach soccer competitions. More than just a beach soccer event, the Copa Lagos brings together fashion, live music and sport into one big party, attended by some of the country’s best-known celebrities. Making the trip all the way from South America were Brazil. The Canarinha, who were world champions at the time, were making their second appearance in the competition, the last time being in the very first edition back in 2011, while the other non-African side joining them in the group was England. It was their third participation in the tournament, but they weren’t the only Lions competing for the crown, as the Senegalese Lions of Teranga, landed in Nigeria ready to roar. Local Nigerian sides Gidi Sharks, Pepsi FA and Kebbi BSC, who were fresh from their stint at the World Winners Cup in Alanya, as well as Ghanaian champions, Sunset Sports made up the club competition line-up. Nigeria were looking for their first title since 2013 where they defeated Senegal on the final day to clinch the crown. However, in recent years, the Lions have had the edge over the Eagles in the tussle for African supremacy, but both welcomed their Brazilian and English visitors to the continent with defeats on day one. On day two, Brazil picked up their first points by subjecting England to their second defeat, but the Senegalese caused upset when they downed their hosts 5-2. This meant that Senegal claimed the title with one day to spare having already reached six points and defeated the only two sides who could match their tally. But the Sand Eagles managed to triumph in a 13-goal thriller against Brazil on the final day to take second place, while Senegal were run really close by England, just managing to hang on to a 3-2 lead to lift the trophy with maximum points. Senegal also claimed the MVP and Best Goalkeeper awards, with Diassy and Al Senyi taking home the trophies, while Nigeria’s Ogbonna Emeka netted seven over the three games to win the Top Scorer award. Sunset Sports from Ghana dominated the club competition, despite being dragged to the penalty spot by Kebbi, who finished third, on day one. Gidi Sharks finished in seconvd while a winless Pepsi FA came fourth. The city of Lagos demonstrated once again that it is one of Africa’s beach soccer strongholds with some of the world’s most passionate fans, who really know how to throw a beach soccer party.


“My heart fills with pride to remember the goals that we have achieved over the years.”



pain national beach soccer team coach, Joaquin Alonso, announced his exit from the coaching staff on November 2019

Over the last 23 years Spanish beach soccer has been lit up and steered by a true legend of the game, but on 21 November, an era spanning nearly a quarter of a century came to an end. Joaquin Alonso, a footballing legend on both sand and grass, stepped down from his position as head coach of the Spanish national beach soccer team. In a moving statement, the ex-Spain midfielder said: “I’ve been in this sport from the very beginning, first as a player and then in charge of the national selection. My heart fills with pride to remember the goals that we have achieved over that time.” Alonso says goodbye to a role which has been his for the past 17 years, after having played beach soccer for six years previously, and leaves behind a legacy of success, titles and extraordinary development in the sport. In his career playing on grass, the moustachioed mediocampista represented Spain at the 1980 Moscow Olympics as well as in the 1982 World Cup held in his home country, playing a total of 18 games. For 16 seasons he was part of the squad of Real Sporting de Gijón, playing a grand total of 479 matches in the First Division, which was a record at the time of his retirement at the end of the 1991/92 campaign. No sooner had the Spaniard hung up his boots than he began playing barefoot. In his own words: “the sport captivated me from the moment I started playing it.” Among the trophies that he has accumulated in his lengthy career in beach soccer, Joaquin Alonso boasts having won, in some cases on more than once, the European league, the European Championship, the World Cup, a World Cup runner-up medal, an Olympic silver medal and an Olympic gold achieved just a matter of short months ago at the World Beach Games in Doha as part of the technical staff of the women’s Spain team. It is always sad to say goodbye to legends in any sport, but someone who has been such a familiar face and a crucial figure in beach soccer for so long, will be truly and sorely missed. Gracias por todo, Joaquin!



group of local children tested out the top-class beach soccer facilities at Kite Beach for themselves ahead of matchday 3 of the Intercontinental Cup It just wouldn’t be the Intercontinental Cup without a Beach Soccer Foundation clinic taking place in Dubai… Thursday 7 November saw 16 youngsters make their way onto the sand to strut their stuff like the beach soccer pros had been doing down on the very same pitch over the competition days in the UAE. They were joined by players and coaches from the Iranian and Egyptian national beach soccer teams, as well as their own heroes

CER FOUNDATION N DUBAI! from the UAE national side, and they went through the usual drills including passing and shooting.

excited and had been asking every day when they would be able to come and play.”

The group came from Dubai-based Al Noor Training Centre for Children with Special Needs to take part in the clinic and the children, most aged around 16, were no strangers to beach soccer.

“They just love kicking the ball, scoring in the professional goals.” He added. “It gives them a special feeling and on top of that they have the chance to meet many international players.”

Actually, they took part in the same clinic last year, and there were many familiar smiling faces from the previous edition, and they knew exactly what to do.

“They’ve been watching the matches online and it’s just a brilliant opportunity for them to get involved.”

A spokesperson from the centre commented that, “they were very

“Actually, we have many regular beach soccer activities in our education curriculum. We are very grateful to be here today.”




61. Madagascar


2. Portugal


62. Libya


3. Italy


63. Bulgaria


4. Russia


64. Denmark


5. IR Iran


65. Algeria


6. Japan


66. Guyana


7. Spain


67. US Virgin Islands


8. Switzerland


68. Côte d’ivoire


9. Paraguay


69. Afghanistan


10. Senegal


70. Malaysia


11. Tahiti


71. Tanzania


12. Mexico


72. Costa Rica


13. Uruguay


73. Serbia


14. UAE


74. Iraq


15. Belarus


75. Georgia


16. USA


76. Qatar


17. El Salvador


77. Kenya


18. Argentina


78. Jamaica


19. Morocco


79. Antigua & Barbuda


20. Oman


80. Belize


21. Egypt


81. Turks & Caicos Island


22. Ukraine


82. Latvia


23. Nigeria


83. Andorra


24. Panama


84. Mozambique


25. Poland


85. Equatorial Guinea


26. Ecuador


86. Syria


27. France


87. Uganda


28. Colombia


88. Kuwait


29. Peru


89. Kyrgyzstan


30. Germany


90. Albania


31. Bahamas


91. Bonaire


32. Chile


92. Djibouti


33. Azerbaijan


93. Finland


34. Solomon Islands


94. Vietnam


35. Czech Republic


95. Saudi Arabia


36. Turkey


96. Austria


37. Hungary


97. Barbados


38. Lebanon


98. Canada


39. England


99. Ghana


40. Greece


100. Slovakia


41. Venezuela


101. Uzbekistan


42. Vanuatu


102. Burundi


43. Trinidad & Tobago


103. Laos


44. Kazakhstan


104. Seychelles


45. Norway


105. Malawi


46. Bolivia


106. Belgium


47. New Caledonia


107. Zanzibar


48. Romania


108. Tunisia


49. Estonia


109. Malta


50. Moldova


110. South Africa


51. Palestine


111. Mauritius


52. Lithuania


112. Puerto Rico


53. China


113. Dominican Republic


54. Bahrain


114. Israel


55. Tonga


115. Australia


56. Guadeloupe


116. Sweden


57. Netherlands


117. Yemen


58. Guatemala


118. Philippines


59. Cape Verde


119. Indonesia


60. Thailand


120. Fiji


Spain’s women top the ranking after clinching gold in Qatar



11. Algeria


2. England


12. Netherlands


3. Russia


13. El Salvador


4. Switzerland


14. Argentina


5. Mexico


15. Bahamas


6. Brazil


16. Chile


7. Cape Verde


17. Greece


8. USA


18. Portugal


9. Paraguay


19. Belarus


10. Czech Republic






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Tennis player Gabi Taylor makes the most of her holidays in Seychelles


12th - 16th February

29th May - 7th June





he beach soccer year begins on a high note. The seventh edition he Praia da Vila at the Portuguese resort of Nazaré will welcome of the prestigious Mundialito de Clubes lands in Moscow’s once again the European beach soccer club festival, composed of Megasport Arena for the second time with a stunning line-up. the Euro Winners Challenge (to kick off on May 29th), the Women’s Euro Winners Cup and the Euro Winners Cup. Defending champions SC Braga will see their crown threatened by the likes of hosts and two-time champions Lokomotiv Moscow and All in all, there will be more than 80 clubs involved, players coming Spartak Moscow, Brazilian giants Flamengo, Levante UD (ESP) and from all over the world, more than 200 beach soccer games on thee debutants Alanyabelediye Spor (TUR), Tokyvo Verdi (JPN) and Napoli different pitches and hours and hours of top-notch action to rock BSC (ITA). the beach soccer festival nobody wants to miss!





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