Steve Sidwell and Pippa Monique have become fan favourites within the futsal community as the faces of BT Sport’s live NFS action. As part of our January weekend on BT Sport, we caught up with Steve and asked him his thoughts on the growth of futsal, the particular benefits of the sport for younger players and who he predicts to be NFS Champions for the 21/22 season!
What has your experience been of The FA National Futsal Series so far?
It’s been really good. I had played futsal before so I knew the rules of the game, doing it through my coaching badges and with the NFS highlighting it on BT Sport. I’ve been really, really impressed and I can only see it growing and getting better.
How have you seen the sport develop over the last year?
It needs a platform to build on and a profile and hopefully, BT Sport can do that for futsal because we’ve seen it across the continent and abroad; it’s huge and it’s a really fast-growing sport – so why not in this country? We’ve seen professionals play this sport and go into the professional game as well, so there’s a link and a pathway there. In time, I can only see it going from strength to strength.
Speaking of professional footballers, Max Kilman has made the headlines recently. Do you think his position within football is going to be influential to young players coming through the ranks?
Yes, definitely. I was coaching at Brighton Academy when I finished football and there were elements of futsal that were implemented really well there. A lot of other academies are now following suit and it’s being introduced at a younger age, which can only benefit them in terms of their skills, their fitness levels, and their speed of play because it’s so quick and intense out there.
How does it feel to be the face of BT Sport’s NFS coverage?
Yeah, it’s been great. It’s been a learning curve as the deal was completed quite late so we didn’t have much prep time beforehand, but it’s been really great and everyone has been so welcoming. I’ve been so impressed with both the women’s and men’s games. Being so close to the action when you’re here on the court, you really get a taste for how hard it is. People don’t realise the speed of it and how fit you’ve got to be to play. I’ve really enjoyed it so far and hopefully, it’s a long-lasting relationship and we continue to see it grow.
Did futsal influence your football career at all?
It wasn’t really about when I was coming through, which is a shame because I can see the benefits of it. The technical parts of the game, using all parts of your foot, whether it’s the sole, inside or outside of the foot, and your speed of thought has to be really quick as well. This is the reason why it’s being introduced now into a lot of academies because it really sharpens the tools that youngsters need.
And finally – the big one. Who are your bets to win the NFS One and WSS Tier One?
Well…London Helvecia are the big ones aren’t they. They’ve been really impressive in both the men’s and women’s leagues, so I’m going to say double champions this season.