Portsmouth has a big part to play in thriving beach soccer scene

Pompey boss Kenny Jackett was handed a fresh Fratton Park contract this week  Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey statement defies football’s knee-jerk nature

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Beach soccer has arrived in Portsmouth and is here to stay.

Top international players showed their skills as they mixed with local youngsters when the national tour arrived in the city.

It made for some highly-entertaining matches played in glorious sunshine last weekend.

Portsmouth Beach Soccer Club (BSC) hosted the event over six days on the beach volleyball courts in Southsea.

The adults took centre stage on Sunday with men’s and women’s tournaments.

Both events were high quality, with Chichester City Ladies and Portsmouth BSC men’s B squad taking the trophies.

Current England internationals Aaron Clarke and Matt Evans were two of the star performers for the B side in front of England national team head coach Perry Northeast.

But Portsmouth A, with local beach soccer ace Steve Black in their ranks, gained some pride back as a late strike gave them a 4-3 win in the final match.

The league format meant Portsmouth B had already sealed the crown, though.

They have now earned the right to take part in the national finals in Skegness – with the winners progressing into the Euro Winners Cup, where the top club sides from across the continent do battle.

It’s the start of a big push from England Beach Soccer to get a national league up and running for clubs in this country.

David Jones, head of England Beach Soccer, believes Portsmouth can have a big part to play after the success of the tournament.

He said: ‘The venue was brilliant and the whole event was really impressive.

‘The skills on show were excellent and it was great to see all the youngsters come along.

‘For me, it was a big thing to see that on the Tuesday, when the weather was not so good, we had 22 out of 24 registered youngsters turn up.

‘They were all keen to stay for the whole of the sessions.

‘I was also very impressed with the skills of the ladies who were playing.

‘We would like to host a national ladies’ event in future.

‘It may even be something we could look to host in Portsmouth.’

Organisers Jamie O’Rourke, of Portsmouth BSC, and Mark Corbett, from Pompey in the Community, made sure the tournaments and the coaching days ran smoothly.

They also had under-14 and under-18 tournaments.

London side KNI won the younger age group, with Isle of Wight team Solent Santos second.

Meanwhile, WKR Santos, also from the Isle of Wight, won the under-18s.

O’Rourke is determined to ensure beach soccer becomes a regular fixture on the sporting calendar in Portsmouth.

He was delighted with the support he received from the council – especially David Evans, from Seafront Services.

‘We have to build on this event. We have shown that there is a big call for it in Portsmouth,’ said O’Rourke.

‘The council have been so supportive and we have to thank them – without them we could not have set it up.

‘There was 58 youngsters for the coaching, with ages ranging from nine to 16.

‘It really was good. We had two teams from our coaching course who came into the tournament on Saturday and they really took the skills on board and we also put a team together from under-12s and under-14s.

‘We’d love to put on more coaching sessions in the summer holidays.’