An American in Brazil: Beach soccer in pictures
NATAL, Brazil - Having finallly arrived in Brazil and settled down it was time for some much needed relaxation. Our insane sprint to the Ghana game was in the rear-view mirror and a couple days of full of fun and sun lay ahead.
Our host city for the first World Cup match; our triumph over the Black Stars, Natal, sits in the North-East of Brazil. Natal, meaning "Christmas" in Portugese was founded on its saint's feast day in 1599.
The city has rapidily grown into an popular beachside destination as Brazilians look to escape from the hustle and bustle of some of the country's major metropolitian areas like Rio and Sao Paulo.
- READ: The wild ride to Natal
With great beaches, of course, comes great beach soccer. Cruise up and down the coastline of Natal and you're guaranteed to see game after game after game cutting across the sand.
Beach soccer, or beasal, as its called here, started in Brazil back in 1992. Wth so many people kicking about in Natal and elsewhere -- not to mention the number of beaches -- it's no wonder that Brazil have won the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 13 of the 15 times it's been held.
The beauty of beach soccer, much like soccer in general, is its simplicity. Just a few warm bodies, a ball, and something -- anything! -- to mark off goals.
Here are just a few sights from Natal's beach soccer scene:
1) The first thing you need is a ball.
2) And a few friends.
3) Set up a goal.
4) Any goal will do.
5) Really.... any goal will do.
6) Even if your goal is still being used for it's original purpose.
7) Maybe just a game of keepy-uppy instead.
8) Perhaps a kick-about with a difficult defender.
9) The games can sometimes be a bit casual.
10) Or they can be as intense as the real thing (American Outlaws play against Ghanaian fans at their hotel).
11) But with always one GOOOOOOOL in mind.