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Page last updated at 11:44 GMT, Friday, 14 August 2009 12:44 UK
Life’s a beach in Tameside

Boys playing beach soccer
Youngsters from Bennett Street Youth Centre and the Asian youth project Jubo Shongo

Manchester may have 'everything except a beach'. But Tameside youngsters have been enjoying a kick-about on the sand without a trip to the seaside.

Tameside's youth service has shipped in 400 tonnes of sand to create the North West's first ever beach soccer and volleyball court.

The new facility at Hyde Technology School has been a huge hit with hundreds of youngsters who've been joining in free events during the summer break.

Tameside youth worker Mathew Mahoney said: "We've had some great days, and playing beach football has given youngsters something extra to get active and involved in sport in during the holidays."

Now the school is looking forward to a visit from the official England Beach Soccer team who are coming to Hyde on Thursday 20 August to show off their skills.

We got in touch with the manager of the England Beach Soccer team who was really helpful and it went from there. The youngsters love it. It's been fantastic!
Sue Nathan, head of Tameside Youth Service

The visit will combine free coaching sessions with members of the England squad alongside an open tournament for the under-16s.

Sue Nathan, head of Tameside Youth Service, said the idea came from the youngsters who asked for a beach party over the summer.

"Someone then suggested getting a beach soccer pitch," she said. "So we got in touch with the manager of the England Beach Soccer team who was really helpful and it went from there.

And with funding from the Youth Opportunity Fund, they created the only urban beach soccer pitch in the country.

"The youngsters love it. It's been fantastic!" she added.

Beach soccer

Beach football first began in Brazil but since the launch of Beach Soccer Worldwide in 1992 it's become an international game.

Eric Cantona playing beach soccer
Eric Cantona took up beach soccer after leaving Manchester United

Each team consists of five players, including the goalkeeper and an unlimited amount of substitutions. A game lasts 36 minutes, and is split up into three 12 minute periods. Shoes are not allowed.

The irregularity of the soft sand surface leads to a totally different style of play, where players must improvise.

Eric Cantona took up beach soccer shortly after leaving Manchester United in 1997 and became captain of the French national side. He went on to manage the team which won the inaugural FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in 2005 in Rio de Janeiro.

Other famous footballers who've turned to beach soccer such as Brazilian stars Romario, Júnior and Zico have helped to make it one of the fastest growing professional sports in the world.

Hyde's beach facility, financed by the Youth Opportunity Fund, is being used as part of the youth service's summer programme in partnership with sport development, FC United, Jetix Beach Soccer England and all local junior football clubs.

The council has said that, if it proves popular, it may pave the way for plans for a more permanent facility in the Tameside area.

Beach Soccer training sessions and an open tournament for under-16s are being held at Hyde Technology School on Thursday 20 August. Free to enter.

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