FA Chairman impressed after England Futsal session and cap presentation
There was a day of celebration for the England Futsal squad last week when they received their international caps from David Bernstein.
The squad held a special training session for The FA Chairman at the SportHouse leisure facility in Barking before lining up to receive their caps, with Nick Colley and England captain Luke Ballinger leading the way with 50 international appearances apiece.
It was the first time that the Chairman had watched the England Futsal team in live action and the training session left Mr Bernstein wishing that the small-sided format had been introduced to these shores when he was a player.
“I was really impressed with the fitness and skill level of the England squad. I always enjoyed playing five-a-side for various reasons and I was quite a skilful player as well, so I’m a little sorry that Futsal has arrived too late for me.”
The Chairman believes that Futsal is a game that sits comfortably alongside The FA’s focus on youth development and mandatory small-sided formats for youngsters such as 7v7 and 9v9 football.
“Facilities such as St George’s Park will help our coaches develop skill based players and Futsal clearly has an important part to play in that process as the game is about fast thinking, movement and good control.”
It’s a view that’s reinforced by the Head Coach of the England Futsal team, Pete Sturgess: “There are a lot of aspects to Futsal that will really help with youth player development in this country. Players will be under pressure and on the ball in tight situations so if you’re brought up on that from a young age then you’re learning to make quick and effective decisions.
“We’ve never really had a culture of indoor court games such as basketball, volleyball and handball in this country so the infrastructure hasn’t been there for Futsal to develop like it has in Europe and South America.”
And some of international football’s biggest names have benefited from playing Futsal as children, as Sturgess explained: “Players like Fabregas, Ronaldo and Neymar will put their early skill development down to Futsal so the links to the 11-a-side game are really strong.
“Futsal is like football’s little brother. There’s a genuine pathway into the 11-a-side game and there’s a real synergy between two.”
The England Futsal team go into 2013, The FA’s 150th anniversary year, with the first phase of qualifying for the European Championship.