The stadium planned for Skegness will be the beach soccer equivalent of Wembley, home to the national team and capable of hosting international tournaments, it was announced today.
Leading figures behind the ambitious project explained their expectations for the stadium at a press conference this morning.
Speaking at the Grosvenor House Hotel, where the England national beach soccer team is staying, manager David Jones said the stadium would put the sport ‘on the map.’
“The facility is excellent there, the boys were training on the sand at seven o’clock this morning, it’s a great facility the sand is quality, the plans for the stadium are just so exciting, it will put the sport on the map,” he said
Mr Jones, who has been with the team since 2007, hoped the nation’s first beach stadium would elevate the sport in popularity, and increase its uptake among younger players, particularly in the north of England where there are currently fewer teams.
“There will be somebody possibly in Skegness who is good enough to trial for one of the England teams now, certainly from Lincolnshire community, and that’s why I want more areas throughout the country playing beach soccer,” he added.
Currently Mr Jones acknowledges the sport isn’t widely followed in England but he believes Skegness Beach Stadium will help elevate it to levels enjoyed abroad such as Brazil where he says up to 34,000 people turn out to watch big games.
Skegness Beach Stadium Ltd CEO Gary Shepherd explained that the 2,040 seater facility would enable the creation of a 64 team league to generate interest in the sport and also provide a venue for international tournaments.
He said: “It’s going to be the home of the England team, this is where we are going to play, this is where we are going to train, international matches will be held here, so we are bringing in the international visitors, which is vitally important for Skegness, with the aim, hopefully of holding international tournaments.”
The Mayor of Skegness Coun Mark Anderson said it would be ‘fantastic’ for Skegness if the stadium could elevate its standing internationally.
“This will create jobs and that’s what we are all about,” he said.
With the popularity of beach volleyball at the London 2012 Olympic Games, prompting four boroughs in the capital to invest in sand court siteses, Mr Shepherd and Mr Jones, both believe there is scope for Skegness to capitalise on the sporting fervour still present in the country at the moment.
They believe the quick paced games and sideline entertainment involving music,cheerleaders and dancers, will generate ‘massive spectator appeal.’
Speaking after the conference Mr Jones said: “I look forward to standing at the back of the stadium as the sun sets looking down on all the smiling faces enjoying one big party.”
Subject to planning permission, the stadium is hoped to be available for use by June.