New England Futsal Head Coach Peter Sturgess brings the first of his regular articles for TheFA.com
New England Futsal Head Coach Peter Sturgess is here with the first edition of his regular column for TheFA.com, reflecting on his early meetings with the players.
When I was asked to consider getting involved with the England Futsal team, I immediately asked to see as much footage of their previous games as possible. I needed to know what I might be letting myself in for!
For the previous two years, I had been working with the England Deaf Futsal team and it was through this involvement that I fell in love with the game.
I saw a game that encompassed everything that I like about football. It was skill based and the level of technical proficiency drew me into the ‘game’ immediately. It had a tempo that would change dramatically in the blink of an eye; from patient possession play to electric counter attacking moves. This was something I had to get to know more about.
My two years with the Deaf Futsal squad included trips to Bulgaria and Moscow to participate in European and World championships – a dramatic learning curve, particularly regarding the many tactical aspects of this fast flowing, fluid, end-to-end game.
Watching the DVD footage of the England team, I was pleasantly surprised. The results were not what we would’ve liked but my predecessor Graeme Dell had assembled a squad with a great work ethic and an apparent desire to do well and take this programme forward.
There was definitely something to work with. Many of the goals conceded were down to individual errors and no Coach, however well prepared, can legislate for these.
And so my first training session arrived. I spoke to the assembled squad and tried to clearly identify what my ‘philosophy’ for the team would be. It’s not rocket science and it is based around three important things:-
- Creating a tight defensive unit that is difficult to penetrate and score against.
- Improving ball retention so that WE control the tempo of the game.
- Incorporating lethal counter attacking into our ‘game-plan’ to ensure a high attack:goals ratio.
So the cards were laid on the table and I sat back and waited for a response. I certainly got it as the players listened, practised and enquired about what this meant and what I wanted from that; exactly the response I had wanted.
I had eliminated all of the popular ‘Futsal drills’ that seem to have grown up with the development of the game. I am not saying there is no place for them, but my players needed to become better at ‘playing the game of Futsal’ and the best way to do this is through carefully constructed practice sessions that help develop the various aspects of the game. This methodology will be a feature of all future training weekends as an attempt is made to help the players understand the game.
There will be difficult times ahead, I am sure, as we embark upon this new journey. My priority now is to see the squad play as many highly competitive games as possible and a challenging programme of games has been put together in the build-up to the European qualifying games early in the new year.
Part of the challenge, also, is to make sure we have the best players in the squad. Although the game in this country is still in its infancy, there are more and more people playing and the national and regional competitions are continually raising standards.
As a result of this, we held national trials at Moulton college, Northampton, during September. I was told that the standard was higher than for previous events and as the day progressed, certain players began to catch the eye.
As a result of the trials, there will be a number of new faces included in the squad that travels to France for a four team tournament later this month. This will be the first real opportunity to demonstrate what we might be capable of achieving and I will let you know how we progressed in my next article.
For now I am planning how to approach the two friendly games that will be taking place at Lilleshall in the lead-up to the tournament in France. Helvecia, one of the most capable and effective teams in the country, will provide the opposition along with Team United from Birmingham.
I thank both of these teams for their willingness to play the national squad and hope that the signs of encouragement I saw in the DVD footage (it seems an age ago now) will begin to bear fruit as we attempt to build an England team to be proud of.