‘It is playing volleyball with everything but your arms and hands. It’s as simple as that.’ It doesn’t sound all that simple to us. In fact, the sport described above sounds really very difficult indeed. But that’s why we are sitting behind desks at Time Out Towers while former Brazilian soccer stars are flying through the air and bicycle-kicking a ball over a 2.15m net and into the sand for glory.
Dubai will play host to The Footvolley World Cup at the JBR Walk this week. The sport is a combination of beach volleyball and football, in which players have to hit the ball over a volleyball net without using their hands. The results can be absolutely spectacular as players display deft flicks, powerful headers and athletic overhead kicks.
This is the first time the event has been staged in the Middle East. It will be played on three specially constructed pitches at The Walk, between the Hilton and Sheraton hotels, in front of more than 3,000 spectators. The UAE are first-time entrants and will be one of 32 teams from 27 nations competing in an event dominated by Brazil, where the sport, perhaps unsurprisingly, was invented – in 1965 on Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Beach.
Derv Rao, of Duplays, which is helping to stage the event, says: ‘It is something very different and unique. So am I excited? Yes. Players from around the world – 32 countries – playing a sport that really takes some incredible athleticism will be amazing to witness. People love football, people enjoy volleyball, so why not just combine the two?’
Confirmed fans of the sport include former Brazil international football stars Romario, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho, and Derv is promising a feast for the eyes at the Dubai event.
‘We have capacity for 3,000 people to watch each day and we hope to fill that up,’ he says. ‘Tickets are only Dhs25, Dhs50 or Dhs125 for VIP seating, so the event is affordable and has an incredible venue like The Walk in JBR – an amazing location for an event. With the DJs, MC, activities, family games and recreational tournaments, there will be a lot to do beyond the footvolley competition itself.’
The event is being staged alongside the JBR Beach Fest, a participation event made up of tournaments in beach versions of volleyball, football, rugby and netball, which will attract up to a thousand players, according to Derv. He says: ‘We are expecting about 1,000 participants and about 100 teams [in the beach games].
‘We have done a few beach games, but this is different as it is tied to a major beach event. We think that the venue combined with the various activities will make for a fun and entertaining event.’
October 26-29. For tickets to the Footvolley World Cup, visit www.footvolleyuae.com or dubai.duplays.com
Don’t just watch – play!
The JBR Beach Fest will be made up of tournaments in beach-based versions of volleyball, football, rugby, netball and dodgeball. Teams of two (men’s), four (mixed) and six (mixed) will take to the beach volleyball court for two-day tournaments, while mixed fives rugby and netball teams will clash, as will five-a-side men’s football teams. Mixed teams of eight will square off for a one-day dodgeball tournament.
And it’s not too late for you to enter. Pick your favourite event, gather your friends and get registering on Duplays’ website.
October 28-29. Times and prices vary. See dubai.duplays.com.