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The FA are finally starting to embrace the fast moving game of futsal as a way of developing football skills from a young age and clubs are now implementing it into their academies.
To give you some idea of where we are starting from with this idea, The England adult’s futsal team was formed in 2003 and they have never qualified for the Uefa Futsal Championship, add to that the fact that England are ranked 90th in the World in this sphere, which is even actually behind the footballing might of Tahiti.
If you think this is a competition that is not taken seriously, consider that Spain are ranked in 1st place and you get an idea of how far England has fallen behind in developing footballing talent from its grass roots.
Created in Uruguay in 1930, futsal is the indoor version of five-a-side football that is officially sanctioned by FIFA and Uefa which has become synonymous with flair. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have publicly stated how beneficial they found it playing futsal whilst developing their now world renowned talents.
The merits of the game are that is played at a very high tempo on an indoor court with hockey sized goals, with goalkeepers and outfield players only being allowed four seconds to distribute the ball. This naturally encourages technique, speed, ball mastery and possession as vital skills and has obvious benefits when applied at a later stage on a full sized pitch.
England recently staged its sixth National Youth Futsal tournament and this year saw easily the biggest number of entries during the brief history of the competition.
The FA is targeting the development of 5-11 year olds using the concept and have recognised that futsal fits perfectly in this respect.
The obvious failings of the current England team are there for all to see. The team has suffered from a failure to forget the success of yesteryear, the tactical straightjacket of a rigid 4-4-2 system and a Premier League obsession with foreign imports rather than developing home grown talent.
Some of these observations may seem hard to accept but the facts are that English football has a feel of being left behind when you look at the technical capabilities of some of our foreign counterparts.
A significant breakthrough has just been made in this respect as the FA recently announced plans to dispense with the win at all costs mentality instilled in young players and replace it with a commitment to training on smaller pitches, smaller sided games and child-centred competition in a radical re-think of youth policy.
As an indoor sport, futsal fits perfectly in the plans of Premier League clubs who now include it in their winter programme for academy players and the high tempo of the game means that every player is constantly engaged and this can only be good for their future development.
Futsal is the game of choice for youngsters in South America and also within the famed La Masia academy at Barcelona, so it can only be hoped that the coaches in England who have been given the task of developing the stars of the future, have finally got the message and if you are an England supporter, wouldn’t it be nice to see your side dominate possession like Spain do?
With the help of youngsters regularly playing futsal, this distant dream may actually one day become a reality.
Written by Sam Harvey who supports 5 a side football in London and writes for Go Mammoth
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