The FA and Football Foundation have joined forces in an attempt to kick-start a futsal revolution in this country. The new £300,000 fund allows junior leagues, schools and clubs to apply for a ‘futsal starter pack’, which features futsal-specific equipment including goals, balls and bibs, as well as FA accredited coaching and refereeing courses.

Embracing Futsal in Britain

The British footballing fraternity has long cast envious glances at our Latin friends’ technical ability – the flair, the pure skill, the ability to play and keep the ball in tight spaces, the quick one touch football. “Why do they continually churn out players of immense technical ability and we don’t?”

In countries like Brazil, Spain, Argentina and Portugal, these skills are almost always developed and honed on futsal pitches. Futsal is a thrilling form of football that originated in South America in the 1930s and is now played across the world – although it remains strangely overlooked in Britain.

It’s no coincidence that some of the most technically gifted players in the world – such as Neymar, Phillippe Coutinho and Lucas Moura – started out playing futsal. Take a look at this video of a dazzling Coutinho playing futsal aged 12.

Michael Skubala is the FA’s futsal elite performance manager and head coach of the England futsal team. His view on how futsal improves football players is emphatic:

Better decision-makers in tight areas, quicker and more accurate passers better in one-v-one situations – attacking and defending – and adaptable players who can rotate and be fluid tactically.Michael Skubala

FIVE-A-SIDE FOOTBALL IT AIN’T

Five-a-side football, so popular in this country, simply does not cut it in developmental terms according to Skubala.

He believes there are five critical differences between five-a-side footy as we know it – with its big bouncy tennis balls, wide goals and walls instead of touchlines – and futsal.

Futsal is played with a distinctly different type of ball (smaller, and heavier with a lesser bounce), smaller goals (3m x 2m), a slicker, faster surface (indoor hall), touchlines instead of walls, and the laws of the game (four-second rule on kick-ins, set plays and goalkeeper distribution) designed to markedly quicken the pace.

It’s the constraints of the game that are crucial for skill development. So the surface is a constraint, it makes the game quicker. So if you don’t play indoors on a hard surface and instead play on grass, the constraint is gone because it has slowed the game down. The goals, by being smaller, are a constraint. They’re more difficult to score in. So you have to pass more to get the ball closer to the goal to score. Not playing off a wall means you’ve got to keep the ball on an island, not just booting off the wall. The laws of the game: four on-court players – not five, six, seven or two – is an optimum number for combinations and passing. Michael Skubala

MAKING VITAL TECHNICAL, PRACTICAL AND CULTURAL DIFFERENCES

British football has long been blighted by a very British, no-frills kind of attitude – one that ridicules players for having the temerity to wear gloves in arctic conditions, and implores defenders to “launch it” when in a spot of bother at the back. As the summer draws to a close and we head towards months of relentless, howling conditions – with the prospect of swathes of abandoned fixtures – it is clear futsal addresses all of those issues and more.

All kids should be doing football and futsal. Even with the 3G pitches cropping up around the country, they don’t stop the wind, the rain or the snow. For me, though, futsal is not just for Christmas but, as a culture, it fits better than anywhere as a start for developing players of tomorrow in futsal and football. It makes total sense for kids to go indoors in the cold months. I remember playing myself as a youngster and being told I was soft for wearing gloves in the snow! So, if we can make these indoor facilities futsal-ready and bring down the barriers, we can get more people playing the game in the winter and throughout the year. Michael Skubala

The starter packs are designed to adapt existing sports halls, playgrounds and other hard surface facilities by providing new and existing players with the necessary tools and skills to develop and maintain futsal leagues, competitions and fixtures across the country.

You can apply for your starter pack here. Applications are now open and close at 5pm on Friday 6 October.

KUDOS PASSIONATELY SUPPORTS JUNIOR FOOTBALL

KUDOS is proud to promote youth football, and is committed to promoting the correct way and spirit in which it should be played and watched.

KUDOS SPORTS – A LEADING SUPPLIER OF FOOTBALL KIT FOR WOMEN’S TEAMS

KUDOS proudly supplies custom kit to a range of women’s football clubs across the country – including Carnmoney Ladies FC. We supply custom teamwear that is built for performance and worn with pride.

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