Midlands men set for Sporthouse
Oxford Lions and Team Bath ready for Futsal Grand Finals.
The FA National Futsal League
The Grand Finals
12-13 May 2012
Ahead of this weekend's FA National Futsal League Grand Finals in Barking, we look at the two contenders from the Midlands League...
The most remarkable story of The FA National Futsal League this season has to be the rise of Oxford Lions.
Entering their debut season in the elite of English Futsal, the Midlands League rookies dominated the opposition to lift the crown ahead of established names like Loughborough, Team Bath and Team United Birmingham.
The enthusiasm and belief of Chairman Chris Chesterman and Head Coach Enrique Guillen epitomises what the Lions are all about and they will come in to the Grand Finals this weekend, looking to show the country exactly what they are all about.
“We are really entering unknown territory with the Grand Finals,” said Chesterman, ahead of the weekend in Barking.
“It is easy to forget this is still our first season and that these players have only been together for a year.
“We are a confident bunch, with a lot of enthusiasm and we are relishing the opportunity of playing against the best teams in the country.”
Oxford were comfortable victors in the Midlands League, eventually coming home three points clear of fellow Grand Finals qualifiers, Team Bath. They suffered one defeat all season, a disappointing 9-4 defeat at home to Loughborough, scoring a national record 127 goals across their 14 fixtures.
“It has been a remarkable season. We started out just being grateful for being part of the league and that is how we still feel today,” he added.
“The Grand Finals provides us with a chance to add the name Oxford Lions to the history of Futsal in England.
“Every team is there on merit and we’ll all be fighting hard to leave Barking as Champions.”
The Lions come into the Finals with very little history against their five rivals. Two victories against Team Bath is the limit of their head to head record but Oxford will approach the weekend as they would any other, according to Chesterman.
“We don’t have any fear for other teams because we are a new team and we have no history against them.
“We approach every fixture the same way, whether it’s a friendly, league fixture or a final we have the upmost respect for our opponents.
“We relish the opportunity to play the best in the country all playing at the best of their abilities.
“It was unthinkable that we would be here when we started the season so we’ll just keep doing what we have been doing and hopefully the results will follow.”
Team Bath will enter this weekend’s FA National Futsal League Grand Finals at the Sporthouse in Barking fully prepared according to Player-Coach Sion Kitson.
After finishing second in the Midlands Division of the regular league season, Bath qualified for their first ever Grand Finals opportunity and Kitson believes it is one they will not take lightly.
“We have been preparing for this opportunity for the past five seasons,” said Kitson.
“It is the pinnacle event of the Club Futsal season in England and everything we do is aimed at reaching this weekend.”
Bath enter the Grand Finals on the back of one of their most successful seasons to date. Second place in the Midlands League was coupled with a Silver medal for much of their National League squad in the BUCS Championships in March. Their season long battle with Loughborough culminated in two games in seven days around these finals, with Kitson’s side reigning supreme in both.
“As a team and group of players we are all fully aware of what we are capable of achieving on court” he continued.
“We are committed and we have a determination to show the country what we can do with our free flowing style.
“The competition will be fierce and we know that tactically games may not go as we had planned.
“We are a resilient group though and we will adapt our style to make things as difficult as possible if we have too.”
Bath’s strong season has been built around a solid team base with individuals like Rob Yilmaz, Dave Jennings and goalkeepers Brendan Dix and Jose Lima all impressing considerably as the season has gone by.
England international Ian Parkes is perhaps their most pivotal performer though and with 34 goals in 13 league games, he was their leading scorer by a considerable distance, topping the scoring charts for the division as he went. His strength, ball control and eye for goal are his main assets and Bath will believe that if they get their game plan right, they have the players like Parkes and Kitson himself who can punish teams if a chance emerges.
“At this moment in time, this is The FA showcase event for Futsal and is the event every team is striving to qualify for,” he added.
“It is the best going up against the best. This is where the best players pitch themselves against each other and the best coaches have some of the most intriguing tactical battles.
“These are the kind of games that everyone in the game wants to see more regularly.”