We're gonna have us a ball on the beach, a-slicin sand. So sang Elvis Presley. And city folk can now have a swinging time at their own doorstep when the "beach-in-the-city" comes to live next weekend at Tasik Bandar Permaisuri. Good news: It's permanent. Better news: It's free, writes STARSPORT’S RAJES PAUL.
KUALA LUMPUR: Rio de Janeiro has its Copacabana, Sydney has Bondi, Penang has Batu Feringghi and Kuala Lumpur now has Tasik Bandar Sri Permaisuri.
Bandar Sri Permaisuri? Yes, by next weekend, city folk can head for the beach right in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Well, not exactly a beach in the likes of Copacabana or Batu Feringghi, but there will be venues for beach football and beach volleyball and a jetty with plenty of watersports activities like jet-skiing, boating, kayaking and canoeing.
The good news is that, it's not something that's being put together in a hurry.
It will be a permanent feature, thanks to a joint effort by the Kuala Lumpur City Council (DBKL) and the Asian Media Network (AMN) Sdn Bhd, hosts of the Beach Soccer Malaysia 2004 grand final on Feb 8.
There's better news. The public will be allowed to use the open-air beach football and volleyball venue for free.
AMN managing director Raymond Siva said: “We realise that in KL, there are just not enough football fields any more. We have also seen the mushrooming of many futsal venues. We have been doing watersport activities for more than six years and we spoke to the City Hall about bringing the beach to the city.
“They did not bite at the idea at first. But there were several lakes in the city that were under-utilised and our mayor (Datuk Mohamed Shaid Mohamed Taufek) was keen to make it work. And we were put through a trial.”
The city hall allowed AMN to host the Kuala Lumpur International Watersport Carnival in May at the Kepong Metropolitan Lake. One of the main events was beach volleyball. A total of 16 teams took part and it was a great success.
“It certainly helped us to go one step further. Now, City Hall have agreed to set-up a permanent beach site to hold watersport activities throughout the year. This is certainly great big start for the watersport,” said Raymond.
The DBKL have approved a RM50,000 budget to build the pitch by the Bandar Sri Permaisuri lake. White mining sand from Kuala Selangor will be brought in to fill the two football courts measuring over 20m by 40m.
“We (the AMN) will run the events but City Hall will maintain the place.”
“The depth of the pitch is about eight inches. A compact level of earth will be set-up as the base with the beach sand dumped on top. There will be a drainage system to avoid the beach sand becoming muddy when it rains,” he said.
“From our past experience, we realised that we have to rake the sand continuously to keep it soft. If we don't, the sand becomes hard because of the constant jumping and landing.”
Now that the beach in the city is taking shape, Raymond talked of his aspirations: “We are hosting the national beach soccer for the first time here. The winners will get to go for a championships in Thailand next.”
“By having a permanent venue, the players can now train regularly and look forward to the World Beach Soccer championships. Hopefully, we can send a team in the next three years.”
Malaysia hosted the Mild Seven Pro-Beach Football torunament in 1998. But it was played on a makeshift pitch at Stadium Negara. Now, though, players can look forward to a permanent venue.
“We also hope to encourage school and corporate bodies to make use of this place, maybe even start a proper league. The players will no longer have to go to Port Dickson or Morib to play beach soccer or beach volleyball,” said Raymond.
One things beach soccer has going for it is – it's cheap.
“It is so cheap to play beach soccer. No shoes or boots are needed. No jerseys and no need to rent a pitch. A team just need seven players (including two reserves),” added Raymond.
Getting to the venue should also not be a problem. There is a Light Rail Transit (LRT) station at nearby Salak South while there are car park facilities too.
Meanwhile, the entries are still open for the central region tournament to pick the qualifiers for the Beach Soccer Malaysia grand finals.
Registration for the central region tournament is open until Feb 7 but it is limited to 64 teams. The top four will join four each from the northern region (played in Penang) and the south (played in Malacca)
The competition fee is RM150. Forms can be downloaded at www. amn.com.my
For more information, contact 03-77256812, fax 03-77256815 or e-mail to email@example.com
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