Playing Beach Soccer Away From The Natural Beach

Beach soccer is indeed a great spectator sport, fun, and has availed scores of people a chance to have their first kick of a ball. The game is predominantly played on the beach and it is even more exciting to watch as people get sucked into that whole beach culture it presents.

Beach soccer maven Ali Mwebe ensuring the right measurements are followed before construction of a beach soccer pitch

Constructing pitches on the main land for the sand-bound version of the beautiful game is however a rapidly growing industry and it is increasingly becoming a common practice for areas and countries without natural serene beaches.

Landlocked countries like Switzerland, Paraguay and Belarus have embraced the sport with upland arenas and they have repeatedly featured at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.

Aerial view of FUFA technical centre beach soccer arena in Njeru, Uganda

One East African nation, Uganda, has also become a master of this trade. Water levels of Lake Victoria shot up continuously starting the year of 2017, inundating its shores, including the beaches where the game had found haven. But because of the unmatched first rate leadership at UBSA and FUFA, the land locked country beat its dire straits to find a regular spot at the table of men in Africa. Uganda is by miles the best beach soccer playing nation in the CECAFA region, fifth in Africa and 34th in the whole world – without a beach facility though.

Uganda is the best beach soccer playing nation in CECAFA region

FUFA technical centre beach soccer arena was constructed in 2019 and has since served as the training and home forte for the country’s national team – The Sand Cranes. The arena also hosts league matches for both men and women.

A league action at FUFA technical centre

More than one acre of land was acquired in Bulisa town council in 2021 and a beach soccer facility was established at Kisansya primary school. Efforts are in place to construct one more at St. Lawrence University in Kampala and another at St. Mary’s Rushoroza in Kabale before this year ends.

UBSA, FUFA and government officials during the ground breaking function of Kisansya beach soccer facility in Buliisa

Primary and secondary schools, tertiary institutions and various Universities around the country are also putting up beach soccer pitches at their premises, giving the game a strong base at the grass root level.

But getting the venues right is paramount for a sport aspiring for global popularity and here are five steps to constructing an artificial beach soccer pitch.

1 – Identify a suitable location and define your beach soccer pitch area, including the play zone and at least a two-meter off-pitch boundary around the play zone. Remember, the pitch size depends on your available space, even though regulation size measures between 35 to 37 meters and 26 to 28 meters.

UBSA chairman Deo Mutabazi (middle) took the lead at a ground breaking event in Bulisa.

2- Remove the top soil of the defined area – most builders aspire to create a level surface with the sub-base of the pitch area generally tilted for drainage purposes. This is essential in case of rain. Beach soccer world wide (BSWW) recommends use of perforated poly vinyl chloride (PVC) pipes covered with permeable fabric inside gravel-covered ducts and covered again with another layer of permeable fabric. As all these activities take place, the best quality of sand to be used should be onsite. To build a beach soccer facility in the middle of a street, square or open space (‘Ekibangirizi’), you need about 800 tons of sand, not just any sand and certainly not the type used in general construction. Grains must be between 0.2mm and 0.3mm in diameter and are generally sourced from beaches, desert dunes or lake shores. If this is not possible, a near-perfect fit can be sourced.

Super quality sand was used in the construction of the beach soccer arena at FTC

3 – After the top soil is removed, sub-drain perforated pipes are installed to slope, sieved sand that is free of pebbles is delivered and a sand pitch is then laid to a depth of at least 40 centimeters. A wood or brick retention box should be installed to prevent sand loss and a mesh fence installed to prevent animals from fouling the pitch.

Pitch experts led by FUFA director of football development Ali Mwebe, UBSA chairman Deo Mutabazi, Mr. Bashir Mutyaba and Mr. Tony Ssebaggala testing the quality of sand at one of the recently established venues

4 – Pitch equipment and accessories. The goal post (5×2.2 meters) can be locally fabricated, otherwise, a standard one can be ordered from BSWW equipment partners. Pitch boundary lines are blue geo-textile materials, so you can use a blue fireman water hose. A roll and a half would just be perfect for your standard pitch. Although the corner flags are special PVC flag poles mounted on flexible rubber base which is buried in the soil to allow free pole swings, a traditional hollow PVC round pipe of about 1.2 meters in height could just be stuck into the soil with your red and yellow fabric flags at the tip.

5 – Get the balls, invite your friends and let the game begin!

Fans from different walks of life enjoying the game in Njeru


Additional reporting by Taye Olajide and Beach Soccer Magazine issue no.4 2017

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