Tomorrow, the attention of the English Futsal community will be fixed firmly on Birmingham, as the 2012 FA National Youth Futsal Festival Finals begin at the International Futsal Centre.
Teams from all round the country will compete for the right to be named National champions in their own age group after coming through a series of regional qualifying tournaments to reach the Finals weekend.
Each season, the number of teams entering The FA Youth Festivals continues to increase and with the increase in the numbers of youngsters playing Futsal, we are automatically seeing an increase in the standard of play.
In the South East, Oxfordshire FA has successfully pulled together the first regional festival for clubs and schools in the area and they will be represented by a strong contingent of qualifiers across the two days in Birmingham this weekend.
Boys’ teams across all four age groups, from U16s down to U10s as well U16, U14 and U12 girls’ team will be on show as winners of the South East Festivals and organiser Owain Prosser, Oxfordshire FA’s Football Development Officer, is expecting a strong showing from their youngsters.
“All teams attending the Birmingham finals have earned their right to be there,” he said.
“Throughout our qualifiers they have played to a fantastic standard, showing quick and exciting attacking play whilst scoring some very impressive goals.
“Importantly though they have also played things in the correct manner and fair play has been at the forefront of all they do.”
As with so many other regional events before them, Prosser and the South East have found that the feedback from their own festival has been very positive. One of Futsal’s most fascinating features is the sheer enjoyment that both players and spectators take from the game.
“Everyone seems to have loved it, the feedback we have had has been great.
“The coaches have also seen the benefits of the game as well from a player development point of view which is great.”
Indeed, as Prosser pointed out, Futsal enables young players to have a lot more involvement in a game. With a higher number of touches on the ball and much less space in which to work, Futsal encourages players to develop technically and make quick decisions, whilst the increased involvement ensures that players are focused and enjoying their game.
“I think Futsal is really beginning to flourish here in England with more people accessing the game all of the time.
“We are still in the very early stages development wise but I think it is important to have a clear pathway in place to progress those elite performers.
“Events like The FA Youth Festivals are a great way of doing this, bringing together players of a higher ability and creating a buzz and excitement which really inspires players and coaches to push their abilities.”
Prosser believes that standards set at regional competitions like the one in the South East will ensure some mouth watering games in Birmingham this weekend.
“Teams are going to have to play at a high level to be competitive I think which will certainly ensure a good spectacle for anyone who is there,” he predicted.
“Hopefully the experience will inspire more people to get involved in Futsal and continue to strive to improve the high standards that are being set.”