62 - QUARTERLY REVIEW
WOMEN´S GAME ON THE RISE
hen looking back on 2016 as a whole in beach soccer, this past season will likely be remembered for, among other positive steps, the development of women’s beach soccer. Two brand new all-female events took place this year, starting with the Euro Winners Cup in Catania, and continuing with the six-team Euro Beach Soccer Cup in Cascais - an extension to the prestigious Mundialito. Catania played host to the Euro Winners Cup in May as 12 teams from across the continent sought to win the inaugural event. Finalists Grasshopper Club Zurich and BeachKick Ladies Berlin finished first and second in their groups respectively to reach the quarter-finals before the former saw off hosts DomusBet Catania 9-7. BeachKick were 4-3 winners against Portsmouth Ladies from England while WFC Zvezda and Catanzaro were the sides to fall in the semis. In an event that showcased the best of a rapidly improving part of our sport, the final was played out in suitably exciting fashion as Grasshopper edged it by the odd goal in nine to write their name into beach soccer history. Two months later, focus within women’s beach soccer turned to the international stage as hosts Portugal provided the stunning backdrop to the Euro Beach Soccer Cup in Cascais. Led by legendary men’s coach Mario Narciso, the world’s champions’ female counterparts were grouped with Spain and the Netherlands while Switzerland, England and Greece made up Group B. The Spanish and the Swiss finished top of their groups, with a normal-time win and a further victory in extra-time, to set up Sunday’s final. After the Netherlands hammered Greece 7-0 to claim fifth, Portugal tied up third by edging past England 2-0 on penalties. Tournament MVP Carolina Gonzalez then ultimately settled a low-scoring final late on in Spain’s favour as Joaquin Alonso’s side become European champions against a plucky Swiss outfit. With qualification already underway for next year’s Euro Winners Cup, women’s beach soccer is certainly on the up, with the foundations firmly in place for further growth.