It ‘s FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2015 Semi Finals weekend today and the 4 teams competing to lift the coveted trophy on Sunday are current World Cup holders, Russia, previous World Cup winners and hosts, Portugal, the form side Italy and Tahiti, who finished in 3rd place when they hosted the World Cup in 2013.
England have never qualified for the finals, but given the strength in Europe, only 4 places are currently granted for the actual finals, coupled with the lack of support that the sport in England currently receives, perhaps that comes as no surprise to most.
What may surprise those who are only noticing the sport for the first time, is that we can use recent performances to demonstrate the we aren’t a million miles away from the best teams in the world at a sport that is played and enjoyed by only a fraction of the country.
In 2014, we played Italy four times, one of which was a World Cup group qualifying match on their sand. We lost 4-2, with them needing a hotly contested penalty to gain a 2 goal advantage. Before that we played them three times in Manchester at the ITV Fever Pitch event, losing all 3 games; 2-3, 3-5 & 2-5. We also travelled to Tahiti last October and again we lost both matches; 1-4 & 2-3.
When we last played Portugal we lost 3-6 and against Russia we lost 2-4.
These results are against teams that will today face each other in the two Semi Final’s in Espinho. On Sunday, one of the four will be crowned FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Winners.
For now, those involved in the sport will keep working tirelessly to realise the dream of at least qualifying for a World Cup Final, but, to coin an old phrase…….your country needs you!!!
…. and that includes, players, coaches, referees, supporters and sponsors.