The England Deaf National Futsal team has successfully qualified for the 6th EDSO European Deaf Futsal Championship!
The team – which features players from NFS clubs including Worcester, Bedford and Derby to name just a few – sailed through the qualifying stage of the competition by beating Finland (7-0) and Israel (5-2). Even with a tight game lost to Slovakia (3-1), England were able to finish second in the group table, only missing out on the top spot on a head-to-head basis.
The players and staff traveled to Tel Aviv, Israel at the beginning of November, with the games kicking off on Friday 19th November. “The qualification process was thankfully smooth considering the obstacle of Covid,” explains Assistant Coach, Daniel Hogan. “Israel has organised testing and transportation for each country to ensure protocols were followed. There have been many obstacles that the committee team has dealt with superbly.”
Their win against Israel on 21st November sent the team through to the next stage of the competition. “Our toughest competition was surprisingly Slovakia as we beat them a few years back 13-0,” says Hogan. “Israel was also tough being at home and having a lot of fans to support them.”
With nine months to prepare for the Championship, the team will certainly make the most of the time to improve as much as possible. Prior to the qualification stage, the team wasn’t able to train together as much as they wanted due to COVID restrictions. “Our best ranking is 4th, and our aim is to improve on that,” says Daniel. “We want to make the semi-finals which will be extremely tough – but it can be done!”
Looking ahead to the competition in October this year, the team is looking forward to going up against the best in Europe and showing they can be competitive against Europe’s best teams. “England is far behind some of the most established Futsal nations in Europe, and we want to shorten the gap.”
The team’s story is particularly impressive considering they only set up in May 2021 and, prior to the qualification round, had just 8 training days together. “It means so much to us that we have qualified. The players are so proud to represent their country and are very glad they are able to have that experience again when other English players are denied that opportunity.”
Qualification means they’ll be joining the women’s squad in Montesilvano, Italy, for the Championship. The women’s squad, whose stars also play for a wide range of NFS clubs such as Reading Royals, Bloomsbury, Bolton and Manchester, automatically qualified for the Euros so didn’t have to progress through the pre-qualifying tournament.
You can follow the England Deaf Futsal Team on their journey to the 6th EDSO European Deaf Futsal Championship in Montesilvano, from 13th to 22nd October 2022 on their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages.
A big thank you to the England Deaf Futsal Team for their support in putting this report together, and to Catarina – @seixasphotography – for the brilliant images!