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Foot Patrol: The Many Ways to Play Soccer Barefoot

Written By Salvatore Bono

Most sports are complicated.

For baseball you need something to hit the ball. In American football, you need a special ball to throw, the same goes for rugby. In hockey, you need all that gear, and for basketball, you need a ball that bounces as well as something high to throw it in.

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For soccer, all you need is something round and you can make a goal literally out of anything. When I was a kid, my cousins and I would take off our shoes and use them as the markers for the goal.

We would then play in the grass, beach, or dirt shoeless and have a game somewhere, anywhere we could.

I know we weren’t alone, as it happens all over the world – whether in Central Park in New York City or the beaches of Sicily or the streets of Cairo, Egypt, or the favelas of Rio, kids play barefoot all over the globe.

Would you believe even adults do as well?


Barefoot soccer is the sport in its most primitive and basic form. It requires just a ball, feet without any boots and a small field to play in.

In parks, playgrounds, and fields around the world it is played in this simple form. However, while it may seem basic – it is anything but. It is where players form their creative skills, agility, quick thinking and soccer I.Q.

Pros like Neymar, Ronaldo, Messi, Pele, Oscar, Ronaldinho, all credit futsal for teaching them at a young age how to be who they are today.

“In Portugal all we played growing up was Futsal. If it wasn’t for Futsal I definitely would not be the player that I am today,” Cristiano Ronaldo once said.

His rival, Messi, echoed the sentiment, once saying: “As a little boy in Argentina, I played Futsal on the streets and for my Club. It was tremendous fun and helped me become the player that I am today.”

In many places in America like Portland and Charlotte, actual barefoot futsal and tournaments exist.

The Portland Barefoot Soccer league is an annual tournament held in the city where all of the proceeds go to Grass Roots Soccer – which is a global charity that helps children affected by HIV / AIDS in Africa.

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Beach Soccer

Beach soccer can be one of a few things – a really entertaining way to spend the day by the water, a really irritating way of getting sand in your eye, or a way to be a professional.

All of those above are true.

Beach soccer is famous along the shores of Brazil, the Caribbean, Colombia, Italy, Greece, Spain, France, Portugal, South Africa, Ivory Coast, and many other nations.

Like futsal, it is played in a small space with 3-5 players as they battle it out in the sand to become kings and queens of the beach.

It is one of the more difficult ways to play soccer since the sand, heat, and uneven ground make it exhausting chasing the ball as well as finding yourself covered in sand thanks to the sweat from your skin making it stick.

While beach soccer can be a full workout and a total blast, some people have found a way to make a career out of it.

FIFA, soccer’s governing body, holds a Beach Soccer World Cup every two years. The tournament took place in the Bahamas this past spring and saw Brazil crowned victors after they slaughtered Tahiti 6-0 in the finals.

The Beach Soccer World Cup started in 2005 when FIFA began to sanction it. It started off as an annual event held in Rio, and then in 2008, it became biannual and moved around the globe since. Marseille, France, hosted the first tournament since it left Brazil. Other places to host have been Dubai, Italy, Tahiti, and Portugal.

Sixteen teams compete and duke it out in the sand for the trophy.

Read: Canarinho: The Strange Story Behind Brazil’s Iconic Yellow Kit

Foot Volley

If you follow former Italian striker and current BeIn Sports commentator Christian “Bobo” Vieri on Instagram, you will quickly learn that James Bond really does exist.

Bobo, who has houses in Italy and Miami, is always at the finest clubs, rocking the best suits, jet sets around the globe, always has the most beautiful women around him and hangs with his famous friends like Paolo Maldini, Andrea Pirlo, Marco Borriello, Javier Zanetti, and Sandro Nesta.

Vieri is probably living one of the best post-playing careers ever and is most likely the happiest person alive. Good for you, Bobo, now don’t be shy to invite us out once in a while!

When the former Inter striker is not having the time of his life, you can find him on South Beach every Sunday as he plays on a foot volley team which he proudly posts about.



Foot volley is exactly what it sounds like – a hybrid of soccer and volleyball.

The teams of two faceoff on opposite sides of a volleyball net and use their feet, instead of hands, to get the soccer ball from one side of the net to the other. It is the same scoring system as volleyball and requires a bit more skill and flexibility.

While Bobo makes it his Sunday hobby, if you hit any Mediterranean beach between now and September, this, as well as beach soccer, is being played.

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