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'Beach soccer is gaining popularity in Africa'
FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura believes the recent CAF Beach Soccer Africa Cup of Nations in Nigeria and the upcoming FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup will serve to enhance the sport across Africa.
The African qualifier was played out in front of a capacity crowd at the stadium in Eko Atlantic, Lagos last week, with Ms Samoura among those to enjoy the action as the continent’s eight best sides battled it out for the title.
Ultimately, it was the Secretary General’s native Senegal who were crowned African champions after beating Nigeria in the final - both nations now guaranteed a spot at next year’s FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in the Bahamas as a result of reaching the final two.
After what proved a thrilling week of beach soccer, played against a backdrop of a fervent home crowd, Ms Samoura believes the event showcases a glimpse of what Africa’s sides can bring to next year’s showpiece.
"For my first event of this kind in Africa, I find it very exciting and very energising, with a lot of quick movement and also a lot of fun," she told Beach Soccer Worldwide.
"From the number of attendants here, we can only imagine what the Bahamas World Cup will be. So I’m really looking forward to being in the Bahamas next year and through this tournament we will be promoting the event worldwide and bringing more attraction to the game."
During the event, officials from Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Senegal joined forces to pilot a new West Africa Beach Soccer Union, with the aim of developing the sport in the region.
Alongside Beach Soccer Worldwide and the Confederation of African Football, the agreement is designed to tap into the growing enthusiasm and popularity for beach soccer in West Africa - an ethos Ms Samoura is squarely behind.
"Beach soccer is gaining popularity in Africa," she added, "it’s a wonderful event for the youth and even for those who are not that young.
"Africa has a large majority of young people, so this is something we need to invest more time and additional revenues in."
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