Earlier this year, Sussex’s own, Montpelier Villa Under-16s Futsal team did their county proud, by reaching The FA Pokémon Youth Futsal Cup Finals.
Competing against professional academy teams, Villa were the only grassroots team left in the competition, and they put in a remarkable performance to finish in third place.
Following their impressive cup run, we caught up with their coach, Chris Day, who is also the England Deaf Women’s Futsal Head Coach, to get an insight on the team's success, and why more sides should be thinking about bringing in Futsal.
“I first came across Futsal around 10 years ago, when it was known as Brazilian Soccer Schools,” remembers Day, “when I watched it, I was intrigued, and I’d just started running my son’s team at the time, who were only Under-6s, so I decided to introduce it to them, and quickly started to see the impact.
“It was a great development tool, so that group I started with at Under-6s, have gone all the way through to Under-16s, playing Futsal regularly, and even up to the point where some have made appearances for the Under-23s Montpelier Villa side, and I’m sure that Futsal played a big part in that development.”
Whilst Futsal is a relatively new form of the game here in the UK, over on the continent, it’s something that has been integrated into the football landscape for years.
“Over in Spain, Portugal and Brazil, for example, their players will only play Futsal until around 11 or 12, when they then go into 11-a-side.
“So, because their football pathway is the other way round in those countries, their technical base and understanding of the game is much higher.
“I remember when our boys were lucky enough to go out to Barcelona and see how their Futsal training worked, it was a real eye opener for them.
“Playing against teams out there and seeing how Futsal was so well integrated into their game and everything they do on the court, was certainly a memorable experience that’s for sure.”
Clearly for Day, the benefits of integrating Futsal into a young teams training programme are clear to see.
“If you’re a coach thinking about whether or not to bring Futsal into your training programmes, the first thing I’d urge you to remember is that it’s a really positive and fun game for the younger ages.
“There’s a perception of the game that you need a specialist facility and all this equipment, but all you really need are a Futsal ball, and an indoor area where you can map out the lines of the court.
“But by playing indoors and getting the kids out of the cold and wet, you immediately create an environment that’s more conducive to learning.
“Of course, the way we see it you still have that outside game time, but Futsal sessions can act as something of a safety net, for those players whose physical development might potentially see them left behind in the game, if they were just playing regular football.
“Futsal allows those players to continue their development and, most importantly, keeps them in the game until their physicality catches up with their age group."