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A Beach Soccer Referee’s Journey: Interview with Benchabane.

BENCHABANE Lakhdar (Ben), a renowned referee with over three decades of experience in football and beach soccer, shares his remarkable journey, insights, and passion for the beautiful game in this exclusive interview.

– A Referee Career Spanning Three Decades

BSmag: Ben, congratulations on your remarkable football and beach soccer refereeing career! How does it feel to have dedicated over three decades to the beautiful game?

Ben: It’s been a pleasure to experience the emotions of soccer, especially Champions League matches and World Cup qualifiers. And above all, meeting people in a multicultural environment, with different characters and ideologies.

– From Football to Beach Soccer

BSmag: You started as a football referee in 1984 and transitioned to beach soccer in 2002. What drew you to beach soccer, and how did your experience as a football referee influence your approach to the new discipline?

Ben: Beach soccer is a completely different kind of football, with the possibility of seeing a lot of goals in a match. Spectacular goals with scissors, beautiful gestures, music, and spectacle during the periods are much more attractive than football.

2005 World Cup

– Memorable Moments

BSmag: You’ve had the privilege of officiating in three Beach Soccer World Cup finals as a referee (2003, 2004, and 2005) and 12 more as a FIFA instructor. What are some of your most memorable moments from these experiences?

Ben: These experiences are all memorable because three have been held in Brazil, on Copacabana beach, the home of football and beach soccer. The other World Cups were a privilege to meet referees and people from different horizons, from Tahiti, Portugal, Bahamas, Paraguay, Russia, and recently UAE. And now, preparing for the next World Cup, which will take place for the first time on the African continent in Seychelles.

2021 World Cup

– Developing Beach Soccer Referees Worldwide

BSmag: As a FIFA Beach Soccer Instructor since 2006, you’ve played a crucial role in developing the skills of referees worldwide. What do you consider the most important qualities for a beach soccer referee to possess, and how do you instil these qualities in your trainees?

Ben: The qualifications are the same for all football, futsal, and beach soccer referees. They must pay close attention to the game, always be close to the action, vigilant at every moment of the match, communicate well with their refereeing team, and know the laws of the game well enough to apply them on the pitch. This is what I teach all my trainees during my seminars for beach soccer referee courses.

UAE

– Teaching the Game

BSmag: Tell us, places you have been teaching the game, and what has been your most memorable experience doing this?

Ben: I have taught the game in all parts of the world, including South America, Europe, and Africa, where I have had young and vibrant individuals wanting to attend classes and learn the sport.

Burundi

– Differences in Refereeing Requirements

BSmag: Having worked in both football and beach soccer, how do you think the two disciplines differ in terms of refereeing requirements and challenges?

Ben: Like I said before, the requirements are the same. But in technique, skill, and speed, beach soccer is more difficult because the surface is unstable, you have to play with the ball in the air more often, and the most important thing is to have an excellent goalkeeper because he’s the 5th player on the pitch with his hands and feet, and an excellent striker who has to make the difference in the game.

– Adapting to Changes

BSmag: You’ve spent many years observing and instructing referees. What changes have you seen in the sport over the years, and how have referees adapted to these changes?

Ben: The changes were significant when the goalkeepers were asked not to hold on to the ball for more than 4 minutes and also not to touch the ball in the box once they had touched it outside the penalty area. These changes were fundamental in speeding up and livening up the game. Once this has been tested in certain tournaments, the referees quickly adapt to the changes. That’s why we run seminars to quickly teach referees about the various changes to the laws of the game.

Commores

– Physical Fitness and Mental Focus

BSmag: Beach soccer is a fast-paced and physically demanding sport. How do you maintain your physical fitness and mental focus as a referee, especially in high-pressure situations? Is it hard to be a referee?

Ben: There are rarely any time-outs in beach soccer, which is why the referees are constantly concentrating on the game. They train all year round, as most referees also in Futsal and Football during the rest of the year, so it is not hard. Their physical condition is very good, and we give them physical tests at every seminar and before every major competition such as the CAN.

– Unity and Consistency

BSmag: You’ve worked with referees from diverse cultural backgrounds. How do you foster a sense of unity and consistency among referees from different parts of the world?

Ben: I want all referees around the world to have the same preparation and the same techniques, wherever they are in the world. And I often insist with our African referees that they reach the highest level in the world. I give them the same instructions as all the other referees.

– Advice to Aspiring Referees

BSmag: What advice would you give to aspiring beach soccer referees who hope to follow in your footsteps?

Ben: My advice is to learn the laws of the game so that you can apply them properly. Train more and more to get into top physical condition and watch matches, they are freely available on YouTube where you can watch all the competitions and learn a lot.

– Leaving a Lasting Legacy

BSmag: Finally, what footprints would you like to leave on the sand? It’s a question that allows you to share your hopes and aspirations with the beach soccer community.

Ben: The imprint I have already left in Europe, where I trained nearly 150 referees, and this continues at the moment and more than ever in Africa, because it is a country that is close to my heart because I have dual French and Algerian nationality. I am in full development in Africa, and after having given the final of the World Cup to an African from Madagascar (Hachim) who has just finished his career and who will continue as an instructor, I would like to train even more referees Africans and above all to prepare and train new instructors in Africa so that they can take over when the time comes. This is the mark I want to leave in beach soccer, someone who is passionate and who has put his passion at the service of others.

2024 World Cup

This interview offers a unique glimpse into the life and experiences of a dedicated referee and instructor, highlighting his journey and opportunities in beach soccer. Ben’s story serves as a testament to the power of hard work, passion, and dedication in achieving success and leaving a lasting impact in the world of beach soccer.

BSmag

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