It has without doubt been a fantastic 2017 for Carlisle Futsal Club. In this article Chairman Al Tindall reviews the Clubs performance across our 3 operational areas of coach development, player recruitment and competition and also looks ahead to 2018.
Our slow organic growth strategy has meant that the pressure on everyone involved with running the Club has been much less than what it was when we were competing with a mens team in the FA National Futsal league back in 2015. Without the pressure to fund a men’s team we have been able to do so much more than we could have done had we still been competing at senior level. The young people in our Club are benefiting without a doubt but that said there is definitely a void in the Club with the mens team missing. We all miss those days playing in front of a full house at the Sands Centre. A men’s team put the Club on the Futsal map and its easy for the rest of the Futsal community to forget about those Clubs like ours working to a different plan. We are looking forward to bringing our mens team back to life as our academy players progress through and out of our system but for now we are content with flying under the radar.
Our Club strategies are now formulated with the end goal of creating a men’s team that can compete at Super League level in the future. This has meant some tough decisions internally and sometimes disagreement on how we operate and the partnerships we form. I view this as a great thing because it means we have fantastic, passionate people involved in running the Club. There is lots of discussion and debate going on before we reach agreement on the right decision for the Club. The strong position the Club is in right now proves to me that our model is working.
One of the benefits of not having to fund a mens team is that we have been able to focus on driving up the standard of coaching we deliver whilst also expanding our coaching team. This has been a big focus of the management team in 2017. It’s always really difficult finding the right people to represent our Club as they have to share our values, be great communicators, leaders of young people, have a passion for learning Futsal and more importantly be able to have fun in passing the knowledge onto our players. In 2017 we were delighted to appoint Jose Sanchez to the role of head coach for the u12 and u13 squad. Jose is everything and more that we want in a CFC coach. The squad are thriving under him and developing really well as they compete in the www.theafl.uk . They are performing really well at u12 level and are competing at u14 where most of the boys are playing 2 years up. This is a highly talented group who we have high hopes for. The return of Phil James and Robbie Elliott to Carlisle from Middlesbrough and Manchester respectively has provided an unbelievable boost to our goalkeeper coaching programme. We are incredibly lucky to have them and with Tony Elliott continuing in his role as our Club ambassador Futsal goalkeeping in Carlisle is in a great place. I always say if you’re only as good as your strikers in football it must be true that you are only as good as your goalkeeper in Futsal. Frankie Barnes’ performance for our u10s in the Futsal World Cup VI in Barcelona proves that!
We’ve also brought some new people into Futsal coaching this year with Craig Storey, Carl Judge, Mike Bains, Dan Tyer and Rich Penney all assisting the more experienced coaches and gaining valuable experience at Futsal competitions. Futsal is a new sport to most and it can take 12 months or longer to build up a solid knowledge base on the basics of Futsal before being able to lead a team. We are delighted to have these guys involved with us and they will be key to our Clubs growth and success in the future.
I have to also single out for praise Daz Gaffney, Ste Doran and Jon Reay who have been the driving force behind the Clubs success in 2017, huge credit for what we have achieved together goes to them.
Player Recruitment and Retention
In the older age groups we have shifted from aiming to provide a Futsal experience to as many players as possible, to now focusing on finding players who can represent us at Super League level in the near future.
In the younger age groups we continue to offer Futsal to as many young people as we possibly can but are limited by the number of coaches available and we won’t compromise on our coaching quality just to meet demand. Our reputation has been built on this strong foundation and has served us well to date. We have signed a partnership agreement with Carlisle United’s Academy programme this season. The sole purpose of this from our perspective is to keep young players in Futsal. We had a situation this season where 8 of our promising Futsal players were signed by CUFC and we risked losing them altogether to Football. This could have an impact on our long term ambitions but is also a big negative for the players who could miss out on a whole Futsal education. As part of the partnership we have also been able to add players from CUFCs academy programme into ours so from a player recruitment and retention perspective the partnership has worked really well for both Clubs. Young people are now getting the best opportunities in both Futsal and Football which can only be a great thing.
We ran a local junior Futsal League in Carlisle for the 2016/17 season with over 250 kids participating. We concluded this in June with a spectacular Grand Finals event at the Sands Centre. The whole competition was a massive success and we have had a lot of requests for it to run again. However when we reviewed whether this would run for the 2017/18 season we decided that due to facility availability and the fact it didn’t quite align with our strategic objectives that we should focus our efforts elsewhere. We do however have plans this season for a revised competition to ensure the wider grassroots football community in Carlisle is getting a Carlisle Futsal competition experience. Stay tuned for more info on that soon.
For the 2017/18 season we launched the AFL. We are one of 8 Clubs competing with Clubs on the National stage and at the half way point of the season the competition has been a great success. It’s a real source of pride for me personally as it’s the first time our teams have been able to play the best academy teams regularly during a season. It’s a great learning tool for players and coaches and great for forging links between Clubs. The AFL is a brilliant example of what can be achieved when the Futsal community comes together for the benefit of Futsal. We need to be working together to drive the game forward here in England and with so many community leaders involved in the AFL project we expect it to grow for the 2018/19 season.
Our Club also got its first taste of junior international competition by participating in the Futsal World Cup VI. We performed well and created memories for everyone that will last a lifetime. We are already looking to plan our next foreign trip and would like to provide all the players in our Club with the opportunity to play abroad at some point.
Other areas of the Club
We have performed well in 2017 in other areas of the Club too. Our marketing, finance and merchandising sections have all seen improvements.
We continue our partnership with Nike and have made changes to our e-commerce to ensure kit production and delivery is more efficient than it has been previously.
Our social media engagement has been strong with growth across all platforms and in 2018 we want to really push our YouTube channel CFTV adding more coaching content. We have had great coverage from BBC Radio Cumbria, ITV Border News and CN Group, thanks to James Phillips, Andy Wood, Jon Colman and Tom Reeves for your support.
Thank you to all parents and players for your dedication, commitment and support. We can’t wait for 2018 as we continue to grow and develop Futsal in Carlisle and the surrounding areas.
If you want to get involved in Futsal please get in touch with us. Info@carlislefutsal.com.