Unlocking Oceania’s potential in Beach Soccer with Angelo Schirinzi!

The Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tahiti and Fiji national men’s beach soccer teams gained the opportunity to learn from one of the world’s best coaches Angelo Schirinzi, who spent a week in each country holding week-long workshops.

Schirinzi is the current head coach of the Switzerland national men’s beach soccer team and has shared his expertise with a number of different locations around the world, with a purpose to improve beach soccer and drive its overall development.

OFC Media caught up with Angelo at the Home of Football in Auckland reflecting on the past month.

You’ve just completed a mini “Tour of the Pacific” holding beach soccer workshops for players, how did the idea come about?

The idea came from Paul Toohey (OFC Head of Football Development) and Patrick Jacquemet (OFC Chief of Football Division) when discussing how we could develop the region. Knowing the Oceania region has a FIFA World Cup Qualifier later this year, the Beach Soccer Nations Cup, we could put the pandemic behind us and refresh everyone on the qualities and training skills of beach soccer.

When we were talking about it more and more, I was very motivated and happy to be involved of this project. After four weeks, it was a fantastic time in the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tahiti and Fiji. I’m now looking forward to the qualifier to see the results of the work.

What did you do in each workshop specifically?

In the first training of each Member Association (MA) I checked the quality of the team and then I adapted my training style to suit the level of every player. We were on the sand two times each day, we also did some analysis and theory work by showing them beach soccer at the highest level.

Of course, my training was different according to each MA. In Tonga giving them exercises to improve their skills, giving them basic tactics of the game and better results in a short time. In the Solomon Islands, the level of development was higher so we did a lot of strategy work to score.

You exchanged snow-caps for tropical beaches the past month, what did you find unique about each of the countries you visited?

These islands have a big potential to do well in beach soccer.

They have beaches, quality players and there’s no need to place financial pressure on any one to have the latest playing gear! Beach soccer is a great affordable option for all MAs to play.

Why should coaches like yourself invest in beach soccer here in Oceania?

I love the game. I want to grow the game all over the world, the game is still young! I’ve had people ask me why do you give your knowledge away? I told them in the end it’s up to them what they do with that knowledge.

Do you have any advice for coaches who want to coach beach soccer but may not have the courage to do so?

Do it! Don’t be shy, give it a go. The market in football is already small for high level coaches, but beach soccer is new. In the short time Tahiti have made it to a FIFA World Cup several times, so can you. Yes it’s a dream, but even making Hollywood can’t compare.

In the past, you’ve had experiences with Tahiti’s Tiki Toa, how’s your relationship now is it ongoing?

I spent the best time of my life there. We lived a dream, we were together for two years travelling around Europe. Tahiti gave me a blank sheet to organise. We lived together, trained, played matches and won a lot! I have a very strong relationship with them.

What is next for you in 2023?

I will travel to the AFC FIFA World Cup Qualifier nominated as Head of TSG. I’m excited, I get to watch all the matches and choose the best players of the tournament.

I then go back to Switzerland for six weeks and prepare the team for the European World Cup Qualifier. The Swiss will keep me busy with tournaments in Bali, Poland and in the European league, we have a full summer followed by the World Cup end of year.

I could hopefully be lifting the title with Switzerland or Tahiti, (laughs) you never know.

What would you like to see from beach soccer in Oceania long-term?

A FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup title. I dreamt about it this week because we were speaking about it. Sometimes all you need in games is luck, the islands have so much potential, this is the reality.

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