Carlislefutsal.com can officially confirm that Carlisle Futsal Club has been successful in its application to join the FA affiliated National Futsal League and will compete in the Championship North of the competition for the 2019/20 season.
The National Futsal League Championship North will be an initial 6 team league competition followed by a promotion/ relegation play-off series against Clubs competing in the Premiership and other Regional Championship divisions. In addition the Club will also compete in the FA Futsal Cup and could face Clubs in any Tier of the league structure.
The NFL Championship North is the 4th Tier of Futsal in England. The English Futsal league structure for the 2019/20 season is:
Tier 1 – FA National Futsal Series 1 (National)
Tier 2 – FA National Futsal Series 2 (North and South)
Tier 3 – National Futsal League Premiership (North and South)
Tier 4 – National Futsal League Championship (North, Midlands and South)
Head Coach Al Tindall sat down with Carlislefutsal.com to discuss the new league format and his ambitions for the season.
It has been an unusual 6 months with so much uncertainty around league structures and what the landscape of English Futsal will look like for the coming season. What made the Club want to get involved in senior mens Futsal again?
When changes were being muted by the FA earlier in the year it spiked the interest of Club Officials. There is no denying the fact that playing senior futsal at national level is not only hugely exciting for our members and supporters but its also a massive plus for our academy players. They now have an adult team that they can progress into if they work hard. It also allows us as a Club to raise our profile both locally and nationally, we have gone under the radar somewhat since 2015, its important we are seen as one of the leading Clubs in England because thats what we believe we are. When we looked at the positives v the negatives it was a relatively easy decision to launch our mens team again.
The League structure looks complicated to those not familiar with the detail. It is split into National Futsal Series and National Futsal League. What is the difference?
There are 4 levels to the League structure with the FA running the top two under the brand of the National Futsal Series. An independant member led committee run the bottom two tiers under the brand of the National Futsal League. Aside from branding and who is in control the main difference is that the top two tiers are run on a central venue model with each Club hosting 2 rounds of fixtures a season, similar to the AFL.uk youth competition we ran last year. The National Futsal League operates a traditional home and away fixture model.
How has the Club ended up in Tier 4 of the competition? Those in Tier 1 will qualify for the UEFA Futsal Champions League which would be much more exciting wouldn’t it?
It was an open application process with Clubs able to apply for either the National Futsal Series or National Futsal League. As a Club we did express an interest in joining Tier 1 or 2 but in the end it wasn’t a realistic choice for us given the central venue model and our location. Travel costs and commitment from a newly formed squad would be too much at this point in time with over 20 full day away games across the country. There are significant fines associated with failing to comply with the high standards being set by the FA in the NFS as well and we just felt the need to establish the squad first and build the infrastructure behind the scenes to be able to compete at that level. In any event we are delighted to be part of Tier 4 and playing in the National Futsal League. The revamped structure with playoffs and finals event will be hugely exciting.
You said the squad has been together for 3 months now how did you recruit players and will they be ready to compete at national level with only 6 weeks until the season starts?
The number of expressions of interest for our initial recruitment phase was overwhelming. I don’t think anyone at the Club expected over 50 players to be interested in playing for us but actually probably only 50% of those interested attended the trials which i found very interesting. The interest is out there but there is a caution around Futsal because its an unknown to most. It takes real bottle to turn up to a trials event, with people you don’t know and a sport you’ve never played. A lot of players like to stick with football because its familiar so the recruitment process can be difficult. That said we have established a fantastic squad of 16 players with a good mix of experience and youth. We have space to add 3 or 4 more with a couple on trial this week that look good. We’ve got players from across Cumbria as well. Two or three from Barrow in South Cumbria that have signed for us and Dumfries in Scotland as well. In terms of getting the squad ready to compete as a team we have a plan we are working through. Individually they are all very talented but realistically its going to take a season for them to start feeling like a proper Futsal squad. We’ve already played some friendlies and beaten established teams so that’s a good indication of the potential they have. I keep saying to the boys its a learning journey and we are right at the start of it. We are going to make sure we enjoy whatever the season throws at us.