England Futsal Coach Peter Sturgess brings you the latest from his Coach Diary.
At the conclusion of the first ever intensive training camp for the England Futsal squad in April, there was a real sense of achievement (and exhaustion, as the players had worked really hard for three days).
However, one of the drawbacks of working with the national squad is that there isn’t that regular contact that you would get working with any other team; contact that allows you to keep the momentum going until the next time you meet.
Players and staff all go off in different directions back to the ‘day job’, university and a wide range of other occupations, knowing that it could be two months before they will meet up again. This, at first, may sound quite negative but the one thing that amazes me is that as soon as the players and staff meet up again it appears that no time has past at all.
Friendships are quickly re-established, the banter starts up and once again we are a group with a mission and a purpose and one that I will work hard to maintain and strengthen. It is testament to the players that they have bonded into a really tight group who genuinely seem to enjoy each other’s company – for the squad moving forward this is a great quality to have emerged.Monday 25 May (Bank Holiday Monday)
A familiar story of cancelled trains, traffic congestion and long delays greeted the players as they embarked upon their journey to Hereford for the second training camp. This is a four day camp concluding with a sell-out game against FA National Futsal League side Team Bath, so there was already a purpose to everything that we would do over the coming days.
The team meeting to start the camp outlined how we were going to prepare for the game on the last day but more importantly, clearly stated what we were going to add to our game plan along the way.
It was a real pleasure to have Mico Martic at the camp as his expertise and extensive knowledge of Futsal would give the players an insight into the game that few other English players will have received. The players’ appetites were whet and it was off to bed to rest in readiness for the first of many sessions.Tuesday 26 May
Today started another page in the team’s Futsal development. There was a physical warm-up followed by some possession activities to get the juices flowing, as for some of the players it had been a while since their last serious Futsal training or game. This is a continual problem as the game develops, but credit to the players for immediately getting back in the groove.
The team looked fit and sharp and were fed little bits of information and guidance as they played. This is the format for most training sessions; an ounce of information to a ton of practice. The players coped well with the morning and afternoon sessions, looking at defensive organisation and that evening the players were put into three groups and were asked to present what they had taken on board.
Each group were magnificent in their recall of the key messages and information – the acid test is how well they could reproduce this knowledge in the frantic activity of a game.Wednesday 27 May (Champions League Final)
There was a buzz of expectancy throughout the day as the players had the evening off to watch the final in Rome. However, there were some serious tactical rotations to get to grips with first, as the team were introduced to the ‘Giro’ by Mico. The former Head Coach of Croatia wanted to add this specific rotation to our game plan and after some initial confusion (and mickey-taking as players ran in all kinds of directions), the players began to look more dangerous in their attacking movements.
This, along with attacking and defending transitions, was the theme for the day and if the players were anything like me, as they watched Manchester’s disappointing final appearance, their heads must have been spinning with passing and movement.Thursday 28 May
Breakfast discussion was all about Manchester United’s lacklustre performance in the final. Explanations and excuses were offered amidst a general air of disappointment but once we were back in the Futsal hall the focus became re-starts and set plays in preparation for the game against Team Bath the following evening.
It was a light session as we wanted to protect the players and make sure that they had lots of energy for the game. The players revisited the ‘Giro’ and then centre-kicks, corners, kick-ins and free kicks were all practised and memorised. The players were amazing in their ability to remember them all. The evening concluded with a relaxed team talk about how we should approach the game against a very competent National League team. Friday 29 May
This was to be a long day. The team trained in the morning before taking their last ice bath and resting for the afternoon. Meanwhile, for Mico and myself, it was all systems go as we were delivering a coaching seminar in the afternoon. The coaches were taken through some of the ‘transition’ activities that the players had been doing during the week and then Mico followed this with some great DVD clips to consolidate the key messages.
We are very lucky to have the help of Mico as he is one of the top FIFA instructors and he worked tirelessly all week to make sure the coaches left with lots of ideas, but more importantly, the team were in good shape for the match.
Reporting on the match could be an article in itself. Suffice to say that Team Bath gave us a really tough game, and although the England team ran out 6-2 winners, there were a lot of positives for Team Bath.
The game was a great opportunity to experiment with the ‘Giro’ and after some teething problems, the second half showed some real improvements and this is very exciting for the future development of the team. Restarts were excellent also and the whole squad looked confident and creative every time the ball went out of play or a free kick was awarded.
The whole team of staff and players were jubilant after the game ended. All of us are on this fantastic journey of discovery and at each turn we are learning new things and adding extras to our game play. The decision to implement these camps has, in my opinion, already been justified by an England Futsal team that now looks like it is playing “real Futsal”. It is a long road to where we all want to be, but there are now real signs of improvement and I can’t wait for the next instalment.
Watch this space.