Its been a while since my last blog post and with a Club committee meeting fast approaching I thought it was an apt time to review where Futsal is at the moment.
Since our formation Futsal has always been treat as the unwanted step child where Football is concerned. It has always been second best.
Futsal we are told is seen as an essential part of the future England Footballing landscape. It very much embodies the principals behind the England DNA philosophy and Futsal is promoted as a wonderful tool for developing young footballers. This is the message coming out from the FA and it filters down to County level where we are seeing a year on year rise in participation numbers for Futsal (or the variations of Futsal I’ve witnessed). In the main these participation numbers are driven by grassroots football leagues who are running Futsal in the winter months to keep their member Football teams playing competitive games. On the face of it this is brilliant, more people playing equals more people aware, equals future growth. But in providing a fix for a football problem, my fear is that the long term development of Futsal is suffering in this country.
My experience is that the majority of Football coaches haven’t really embraced Futsal and the benefits it can have for their players. At the extreme end grassroots football coaches can be anti-Futsal, playing because Futsal is forced upon them, they’re usually the old school type with closed minds that want to keep their kids playing ‘real’ football – the way they did when growing up. At the other end of the spectrum I’ve also found that the exotic novelty value of Futsal has been embraced too. Its great when this happens and the enthusiasm is converted into a dedicated coach who wants to research and learn more about Futsal but these instances are few and far between. I’ve also found private profit making companies exploiting the novelty marketing value of Futsal to line their own pockets. They buy a Futsal ball, teach a few tricks, then think they can badge themselves up as Futsal experts.
The danger with the Futsal development tool strategy is that because parents and kids don’t know any different they end up forming an opinion on Futsal from the poor experience they are given. Getting a watered down version of Futsal is hugely damaging for the sport and I would say there are far more examples of this happening than there are good examples. Players joining our academy programme can take up to 6 months to get up to speed with the rest of their team mates. There is so much to learn and so many technical behaviours that need to be adapted, it takes time to create those. Half the battle is explaining Futsal isn’t all about 1v1 excellence, flicks and tricks.
We do what we can to help fix the problem. We are the regions dedicated Futsal Club and have a responsibility to do this. We offer our services free of charge, always happy to volunteer time to go out and educate football Clubs and coaches, to help grassroots leagues and will continue to do so. We offer free information on this website via the coaches corner section and have since our inception opened ourselves up to helping others. So far though, aside from a few individual teams, our offer hasn’t been taken up. I think the root cause of this is because of a failure in the way Futsal is promoted centrally. It has to has to start with an adult national league that is successful, one that is visible through an effective marketing strategy, one that is revenue generating and allows money to be put back into the sport. The coaching and playing pathway follows this and inspires down the pyramid. We have to create a motivation at grassroots level to want to learn more. At the minute Futsal is still the sport that makes Brazilians great at football and this has been the message for the last 10 years. It needs to change and this needs a long term development plan. A dedicated team at the FA to deliver it or even better an external body driving it accountable to the FA. Initial direction and investment though has to come from our governing body, it has a responsibility to treat and promote the sport of Futsal as an equal to football if it wishes to govern it.
The acceptance of the awkward step child by the football family will only happen when the parent in this situation, the FA, takes its responsibility seriously and starts treating Futsal like its one of their own.
Until then we will continue to do what we can to give the sport the platform it deserves and will strive to provide our members and the community we serve a first class Futsal experience.