First teamBETWEEN THE STICKS: Goalkeeper Carl Bateson on the comeback trail

March 23, 20150

Article courtesy of @Futsal_First
They say to be a football goalkeeper you need to be a bit crazy. However, they TELL you when you become a Futsal ‘keeper that you need to be as talented with your feet as you are with your hands.

The role of goalkeeper is completely different in the two disciplines of the sport. In football, your primary aim is to stop the ball nestling in the back of your net. This is obviously still a requirement on the Futsal court, but you must also have an eye for a pass as you at the source of most attacks.

Carl Bateson is a relative newcomer to the sport. After watching a few European games on television just over two years ago, he was contacted by Carlisle Futsal chairman Allan Tindall to go down and sample the new local league that had been set up.

The intrigue got the better of the 27-year-old and he has never looked back, even though the game is more demanding than he thought it ever could be. “I was lucky enough to have a short career in football with Newcastle United and Yeovil Town so I have carried over some attributes that served me well there,” he said.

“Futsal is very demanding on your body. It’s fast and furious and played on a hard surface which means every player needs to be 100% for every game they play. You have to look after your body so any little niggles that a player gets need to be taken care of, there is no room to carry players on the Futsal court.”

The physical toll on your body is all too familiar to Carl now as he suffered a career threating injury during a warm-up. The West Ham United fan damaged his LC ligament and crushed the cartilage around his knee. However, he is remaining positive and hopes to be back sooner rather than later, he said: “The injury was a sickening blow after I played so well against a strong Maccabi GB team. To make things worse, it was the first time we were to play at our new home venue with an eager crowd coming to watch us.”

The step back from the game has given Carl the chance to reflect on what it takes to make it to the top of the game. After finishing his football career, Bateson had the opportunity to work closely with Futsal England ‘keeper coach Tony Elliot and Middlesbrough Futsal’s Phil Codd, who focussed on making this football ‘keeper into a Futsal one.

“The training within Futsal for keepers is very demanding both physically and mentally.  For me, the training needs to be as close to what you would get in a real game. It has to be fast, powerful and full on so you can cope with the physical aspect of the game, but it also has to keep you thinking so real game scenarios are fantastic.

“I’m very vocal which is always helpful to the players on the court. I’m quick off my line to make the goal as small as possible and I have quick reactions. The thing is you never stop learning and you never stop developing and with fantastic people pushing you.”

Carl’s sentiments are echoed by FA qualified and current Hartpury College Women Futsal Goalkeeper Coach, Julio Oliveira. The Brazilian feels that dedication is the key to success in any sport and abides by the simplest mantra of practice makes perfect.

“Unfortunately, there is no shortcut to get to the top here in the UK as the game is playing catch-up. In my opinion, the Futsal goalkeeper is the most important position on the court. He has to be a ‘multitask’ player, able to defend, able to attack, communicate effectively, read players movements in the game and be fully focused on the whole match.”

“They are five simple tings; reaction time, coordination, ball handling, ability to narrow the angle and emotional control in the game. Keeping emotional control is the most important aspect of the game. We need to keep our heads and not make silly decisions.”

“The demands of a Futsal match require the ‘keeper to be a complete player. He needs to pass, shoot and understand the team set plays and rotations to better position himself. On top of that, they’re the only player that cannot make a mistake; if they do it’s very likely to lead to a goal. For all these reasons I believe the goalkeeper training is more demanding than the outfield players.”

Julio also believes that the right equipment is essential to be a successful Futsal goalkeeper, he said: “You need good Futsal trainers for a starting point. Knee pads, elbow pads and gloves are particular to the individual.

“The vast majority of Futsal goalkeepers do not use gloves and the reason for that is because it affects the way you handle the ball reducing performance. Nevertheless, Gustavo, the Brazilian who plays for the Russian national team, plays with gloves and in the games I’ve seen him play it didn’t affect his performance.”

As well as being the ‘complete player’ as Oliveira calls it, Carl explains how a Futsal ‘keeper’s methods are a lot more rigid than a footballers’. By this, he explains how there is an official rulebook on how to be a Futsal ‘keeper whereas football goalkeepers are allowed to develop their own methods that best suit them. He also feels that the work done by others will benefit the game in the future.

“Futsal has more what you would call specific methods which I feel are more beneficial. Things like split saves are a difficult skill to master but are key when going in for a one-on-one save. But our job is to keep the ball out of the goal and as long as you’re doing that you’re doing your job right, no matter how unorthodox it may seem.

“Futsal as a whole in the country is developing and it is about time too! There is some fantastic work being done by Tony Elliot for the future of Futsal goalkeeping and I know personally how hard he has worked on this. There is a bright future for Futsal England but the hard work has just begun.”

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