Dubai: Mohammad Al Bahri, the UAE national team goalkeeper, has called for the inclusion of beach soccer at the annual Nad Al Sheba (NAS) Ramadan Sports Tournament.
The seventh edition of the NAS Ramadan Sports Tournament concluded late on Friday and the UAE team’s beach soccer goalkeeper Mohammad Al Bahri — who turned up on goal for new champions Saudi Driving School — stressed that organisers would do well to include beach soccer as one of the sports from next year.
“Once we are done with the beach soccer team, there is absolutely nothing for any of us to do every year. This year, the organisers of NAS Ramadan Sports Tournament included sports like cricket and snowboarding. While on the one hand it is a good thing as we want inclusion of various communities, we have to also think about serving the interests of emirati sports,” Al Bahri told Gulf News after his team’s hard-fought 2-1 win over former three-time champions Fohood Zabeel, late on Friday.
“I feel that beach soccer players in the UAE don’t have a proper season. We are always short of games and practice sessions as well. So many of us join clubs for the futsal season as we really don’t have any other option. Should we have access to more beach soccer events, then we can continue with our season going forward, or else we are forced to play futsal for the club,” the 30-year-old added.
A resident of Al Khawaneej area of Dubai, Al Bahri started off his beach soccer career with then Al Shabab Club. Later, he switched to Al Nasr before returning back to his parent club just before the merger two years back of Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club. “We’ve won three futsal titles for the club, but my first love is beach soccer. The sport has a totally different feel and I enjoy beach soccer more than futsal. But my first love will always be beach soccer,” Al Bahri stressed.
If included, Al Bahri argued that he would play in both competitions. “I will continue as a futsal player as there is a likelihood that I may be invited to join the national squad for future futsal competitions. But I will be the first one for any beach soccer competition,” he said.
“Goalkeepers tend to have a longer career and I feel I still have at least another five years left in me. I will continue pursuing my sporting career in both disciplines, but my heart will always be on the beach,” he smiled.