Illawarra team Premier Select have claimed the 2012 Australian Beach Soccer Cup with a thrilling 7-6 grand final win over Sporting Melbourne.
Playing in front of hundreds of spectators at Wollongong's North Beach yesterday, Select overcame an early 3-2 deficit to finish the game and tournament the more convincing team.
Goals from Peter Grevani (2), Panni Kikas (2), George Souris, Guilherme De Souza and captain Jim Bakis helped the home side see out the gritty win.
"The Melbourne team played well but they were unlucky in the end," Bakis said. "My guys played sensationally, they were outstanding throughout the whole tournament and I can't thank them enough."
Sporting Melbourne's David Zdrillic earned the Golden Boot accolade for the third consecutive year with 17 goals across the entire tournament, including four in the final.
This year's event included former players from the top-tier domestic competition, the National Soccer League (now the A-League), as well as official backing from Football Federation Australia.
The Australian beach soccer coach, Airton Andrioli, was also on hand across the tournament, scouting players for the World Cup in Tahiti.
"For the players it's an opportunity for them to learn and develop in the game," Andrioli said.
"We're currently trying to put together a team to go and play in the World Cup qualifiers next year and this event here obviously has helped us immensely.
"I had a look at some players and obviously there are a few that we liked, which is fantastic."
Andrioli lauded Australian Beach Soccer Cup organiser Alfredo Esteves for his efforts in promoting and facilitating the event.
"It's fantastic to see beach soccer being played at these beautiful beaches in Wollongong," Andrioli said. "It's something, in the future, we'd like to see more often - coming to the beach and seeing people playing beach soccer."