THE round ball returns to North Beach sand this year with the launch of Illawarra's first Beach Soccer League.
After successful Australian Beach Soccer Cup tournaments in Wollongong in the past three years, event organiser Alfredo Esteves says the time is ideal to continue with the sport's expansion.
"The league is the next step in the development of the sport," he said.
"Creating a regular competition, even though it is only nine weeks, is a really good start because we will have the players and teams competing once a week."
A nine-week competition, beginning on October 5, will feature men's, juniors and mixed divisions.
Each division will comprise eight teams.
It will give Illawarra players a chance to push their claims for Australian selection.
"We will be providing the national team the opportunity to see players playing regularly, improving and seeing if they are capable of representing the team," Esteves said.
"The national team coach will probably be here for one or two games so I am hoping he can have a better look at the players."
The introduction of the league won't displace the cup from the beach soccer schedule.
The tournament will be held on December 7-8
It is hoped that the tournament will be able to attract some international teams to play in Australia.