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State beach boys shimmer in silver

Updated on: 12 January,2024 07:25 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Ashwin Ferro |

Maharashtra’s U-21 team win historic medal in maiden outing at Diu Beach Games; WIFA assure more support for the sport across state’s coastline

State beach boys shimmer in silver

The Maharashtra U-21 beach soccer team with their silver medals at the Diu Beach Games yesterday

The Maharashtra beach soccer team won a historic silver medal, going down 4-5 to Lakshadweep in the U-21 final of the Diu Beach Games on Thursday.

Maharashtra striker Manas Tamore’s brilliant hat-trick went in vain as Lakshadweep’s Mohammed Akram netted a brace while his teammates Mohammed Riyaz, Muhammed Sabith and Abdur Rehman scored a goal each. Harsh Kapadia netted the fourth goal for Maharashtra. 

In the group stages, the Om Arane-led state outfit lost to Lakshadweep 2-5 before beating Odisha 7-3 and Goa 9-3. In the semi-finals, Maharashtra beat Dadra & Nagar Haveli  by a whopping 9-4 margin.

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WIFA pleasantly surprised

This silver medal show has come as a pleasant surprise to the Western India Football Association (WIFA) as well as the Mumbai Football Association (MFA). “This is the first time that we sent a Maharashtra team to participate in a beach soccer tournament so we were expecting a second-round finish at best. But this is a brilliant performance and we are proud of the boys. WIFA will now systematically look at organising more beach soccer across the coasts of Maharashtra in the near future,” said Kiran Chougule, WIFA’s Hon Secretary.  

“This medal is special because it is for the first time in almost a decade that a Maharashtra football team have made it to a national-level final. We last entered the Santosh Trophy final in 2014-15, losing to Services, in Nagpur,” informed Sudhakar Rane, MFA’s Hon General Secretary.

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Unfortunate red card

Coach Preetam Mahadik rued the fact that his team narrowly missed out on the gold. “Our captain Om picked up an unnecessary red card in the final and that hindered our strategy, but we still fought hard for this silver. We came here with a vision of developing beach soccer in Maharashtra. And after putting this team together in just 20 days, I can proudly say that these boys are now pioneers of beach soccer in Maharashtra,” said Mahadik. 

Team Manager Ronald D’Souza is hoping the state government can earmark a beach soccer venue in the city. “The government and administrators should allocate a spot on one of Mumbai’s beaches where we can set up a permanent base to train players in beach soccer. Just like we have Cooperage in Colaba and the Neville D’Souza Ground in Bandra for 11-a-side football, Mumbai must have a dedicated venue for beach soccer too,” said D’Souza. 

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