The Serie A sports pitch in west Point on Saturday, April 30 and Sunday May 1, witnessed the debut of Beach Soccer Tournament, organized by the Liberia Football Association.
Played with five players per side, including the goalkeeper, the four teams, including Ambassadors, Buzzi Quarters, Power Plant and eventual champions PHP delighted soccer lovers in the community.
“Liberia has registered to participate in the CAF Beach Soccer Tournament that will be held in Nigeria sometime this year,” said LFA technical director, Henry Browne.
Since some of the strange rules of the game had to be explained to the teams in the tournament, former FIFA referee Alex Nagbe, who was one of the officiating referees, had to school the players on where to stand to make or kick what in regular soccer is called a ‘throw’ and where to stand to defend a ball.
“This is an exciting game where players are not checked as to whether they are first, second or third division players,” Browne told the Daily Observer, a day before the tournament.
During the two days of the tournament, barefooted players engaged each other; the result being misses and goals from powerful shots and strikers.
“Since we have already registered for the CAF tournament,” Browne said, “we are going to carry out a series of tournaments to get our teams aware of ther rules.”
He said Liberia, like other nations that would take part in the Nigeria tournament, will be going there to showcase their talents.
“It is after the tournament that real competition will come because players will come to know the rules and be comfortable to play,” Browne said.
The beach soccer seems to be an important part of the Liberia Football Association since the two-day tournament brought onto the field Deputy Technical Director, Kaetu Smith, and CAF Education Officer, Coach Francis Tamba.
Also present was the LFA point man responsible for beach soccer, Musa Shannon, who sat under the sun to make sure that the idea got its expected momentum.
Apart from small amounts of misunderstanding on the technical aspect of the game, none of the four teams complained about being cheated.
In fact, during most of the penalty kicks that climaxed most of the games, players and fans showed the same expectations and eagerness as the ball passed the goalkeeper, or when the goalkeeper brought the kicks under control, which happened a lot.
With Liberia being blessed with many beaches, the easy organization and hosting of beach soccer could encourage many others to organize clubs across the country.
Although the next competition was not announced, the success of the inaugural edition demonstrated the readiness of Liberian players to own a sport in which many countries are well ahead in its development.