The Future of English Futsal is bright.
The temporary loss of the English National team representation for the males across the youth and senior levels of Futsal as well as the shelved plans for the Women’s national teams caused shockwaves in the Futsal community, with many asking the question ‘where is our game going?’
With this announcement being forced by a global pandemic that effected all sporting participation, especially non-professional level (more so), it left many questions and a long period for everyone to think and worry about the game they love.
Social media was filled with questions and understandable outbursts of emotion which were tipped very much on the negative ends to the scale but with the NFS Summer Showdown and the amazing BT sport coverage the scales have tipped positively.
The NFS season has kicked off across all levels and already there have been some fantastic games across the first couple of weekends. One of the massive positives I have noticed already is the number of exciting young players coming into the senior game and the fantastic clubs giving youngsters a chance. Some of our more established men’s teams such as Bloomsbury (formerly Pro Futsal) and Bolton have fantastic youth pathways in place that are there to genuinely give youngsters a chance at progression and not in place to just tick boxes. Bloomsbury who are linked to one of the biggest youth sporting programmes in the nation have the potential to achieve unbelievable things in Futsal.
Added to this we have clubs such as Trent Valley new to NFS2 who are formed purely from a Junior Futsal club and now playing the senior game. Trent Valley’s squad are all 16 or 17 years old and faced a very experienced club in York (who also have an excellent youth programme) that was a real baptism of fire playing in front of York’s famed excellent crowd and support. A 6-3 defeat for those youngsters in a highly competitive game was the correct result but with time and clubs giving amazingly gifted youngsters a chance the futures bright for these youngsters.
One of the big debates in Youth Futsal is should Futsal be used as a development tool for Football? This is a debate that will never go away but from a personal perspective as someone who has coached Grassroots football, Grassroots Futsal, Academy Football, headed the Academy of one of our top Futsal clubs and now leads the Futsal coaching for the Foundation Phase at Nottingham Forest it is simple…. participation is key.
The whole Trent Valley team come from a Football background as I’m sure most of Bloomsbury, Bolton and York’s exciting young players do too. So, when a football club introduces Futsal as part of their training programme or enter local Futsal leagues to improve their footballers they are exposing them to a game that they could potentially fall in love with and eventually choose Futsal over Football.
We have some amazing Futsal leagues across England and in the East Midlands where I’m based. The Leicester, Chesterfield and Nottingham leagues are exceptional with a mix of Grassroots Football teams, Futsal clubs such as UON and Leicester and Professional Football clubs such as Chesterfield and Rotherham United participating.
If we restrict Futsal to Futsal clubs and don’t encourage Football players and coaches to get involved we wouldn’t have any leagues and we’d miss out on so many potential future stars .
The youth Futsal game is growing year on year and with new Leagues such as East Riding being introduced to the national landscape, youth Futsal is in the best place it has ever been. With the return of the Pokemon FA Youth Futsal cup and the BT Sport coverage for the next couple of years more and more children will be attracted to our game.
I’m extremely excited for the future and the inevitable introduction of a Male and Female Academy/Centre of excellence programme within the NFS club system that will take our youth development to the next level and put our game fantastic position ready for when Male and Female international Futsal returns.
Futsal for all, the futures bright
Written by Nathan Cantrill – currently holds the UEFA B Futsal Licence which is the highest attainable Futsal qualification in England and works at Nottingham Forest FC delivering Futsal to the Foundation phase (u9-12’s) as part of the players weekly development programme.