Abuja – The Nigeria Football Association (NFA) says it is hopeful the introduction of a Beach Soccer League in the country will enhance its chances at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.
An NFA board member, Shehu Adamu, on Saturday in Abuja, said that the association believed that beach soccer had enormous potential in Nigeria.
“We hope that, with our approval for the commencement of a league for the beach brand of football in the country, the game should grow further in Nigeria.
“With it, our team, the Super Sand Eagles, should in the nearest future be targeting reaching the final stage of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup,’’ he said.
Adamu spoke on the sidelines of the 2013 CBN Beach Soccer Challenge Cup holding at the Beach Soccer Pitch in Abuja.
The three-day championship, which is in its second edition and has eight teams participating, had begun on Friday, Sept. 20 and will end on Sunday, Sept. 22.
The championship was part of activities to herald the beginning of a beach soccer league in the country in 2014, after the NFA in May had approved its commencement.
Adamu recalled that Nigeria had always performed well at the international stage in beach soccer and would only be needing some push to further develop the game.
“At the 2011 World Cup in Italy, the Super Sand Eagles reached the quarter-finals and were defeated by Brazil, which was a good one for us.
“But we are thinking that in a few years to come, we should be able to qualify for the final. That is the target of the football house now.
“That is the main reason why we are fully supporting beach soccer development in Nigeria, going by the huge success we have achieved in the past years,’’ Adamu said.
He however commended the organisers of the CBN championship for providing the platform to get players to feed the national team with in the absence of a beach soccer league.
“It is a promising tournament and a welcome development, because its first edition last year served as a feeder team to the national team.
“Its input to the national team is that the coach now has the opportunity to get new players to inject into the national team,’’ Adamu said.
Suleiman Kwande, the Chairman of NFA’s Beach Soccer League Committee, said that he would try to woo more sponsors for the competition.
“I am impressed with what I have seen at the competition, and I did not know it was going to be as organised as this.
“But I am going to see if we can get more sponsors for this competition, because the organisers have done a good job.
“So, I will go out of my way to get sponsors for the subsequent editions, because it is like a breeding ground for our national team players and we want more teams to participate,’’ he said.
Kwande added that the competition was a good move to herald the start of a beach soccer league in the country.
“In anticipation of the beach soccer league next year, the players here will have the chance to feel the sand because most of them have never played beach soccer before.
“Since the tournament is a prelude to the establishment of a beach soccer league, they will get exposed to the rules of the game and it will help them a lot when we start,’’ he said.
Taye Olajide of Sports Solutions, who are the competition’s organisers, said their main aim was to create awareness for the beach soccer league billed to start in 2014.
“After this championship, we will have eight teams who have the experience of beach soccer, and that is good enough to start a league,’’ he said.
Olajide however called on corporate bodies to identify with beach soccer development in Nigeria, for its league to be attractive to all.
“The sponsorship does not have to be in terms of money. It can be in kind, or supporting a team, and this will encourage the team and its players,’’ he said.
Olajide said the CBN Challenge Cup was a promotional competition, with no monetary benefits for the participants.
“But some partners gave us gifts to give to the players individually, for them to have something to point at. These are gifts the players will be able to make reference to.
“However, they should be encouraged for now by their participation, because there will be lots of money to be won in the league when it commences,’’ he said.(NAN)