Pic by Laura Holme

The Isle of Wight’s beach soccer season gets underway this weekend (June 2 and 3) with the Youth Championships at Appley Beach in Ryde.

The youngsters will kick off the first of 19 events taking place this year.

The recent licence agreement between the IW Beach Soccer Association and Isle of Wight Council means there will be more events than ever before, with a special focus on enhancing the youth and girls’/ladies’ sections of the sport.

Pic by Laura Holme

This weekend, boys under seven and eight, and girls under 14 will compete on Saturday, while boys under nine and ten, and girls under 12 will take to the sand on Sunday.

On Saturday, June 9, the senior teams will be in action when the UK Men’s and Women’s Beach Soccer Super Cups take place, hosting teams from across the country.

The tournament will be played in a World Cup format, with qualifying teams going head to head in a knock-out phase before a grand finale on the same day.

Pic by Laura Holme

Other highlights during the season include the Girls’ Beach Sports Festival on July 21 and the senior men’s National Championship Finals on July 22.

There will also be a series of beach soccer skills camps during the school holidays for children in Years 1 to 6.

Jess Cutler, Katie James and Luke Kerr. Pic by Laura Holme

IW Beach Soccer’s General Manager, Luke Kerr, said:

“This summer, we are hosting more beach soccer events than ever before, thanks to the new beach licence we formed with the Isle of Wight Council.

“This will enable us to grow the sport, particularly the youth sections, where we’re aiming to hold more events for youngsters aged between six and 16. We will also be focusing on the development and growth of girls’ and ladies’ beach soccer over the next five years, an initiative which has also been supported by Ryde Town Council.

“Currently, we have nearly 800 members, 500 of which are children and more than 85% are boys. We want that figure to change, so we have an equal representation of girls and boys in beach sports.

“We have employed an FA coach, Jess Cutler, who will be our lead Girls’ Development Coach, and she will also be supported by England international and European champion Katie James, who will also work for Elite Soccer UK as a Beach Soccer Mentor. Having these two ladies as role models and leads will help us grow the girls’ game much quicker.”