The England Futsal Team have had a quiet season – but busier times lie ahead.
Last term, the England Futsal team had a record-breaking year in qualifying for the Main Round of the UEFA Futsal EUROS for the first time in history, which was a seminal moment for all involved with the England squad.
This feat helped tremendously to raise the profile of Futsal in England, and also to raise England’s credibility in Futsal across other European nations.
And next season England return to the qualifying stages for the UEFA Futsal EUROS 2016 and attempt to match the achievements of last season by getting to the Main Round once again.
“In many ways, last year’s success has brought an added degree of pressure and expectation to the England players and coaching staff, with the English Futsal community now expecting qualification to the Main Round as a ‘must’,” said Simon Walker, The FA’s national manager for grassroots adult football.
“But pressure and expectation is not always a negative influence on a squad of elite players.
“Channelled in the right way, pressure can help bond a group of players and staff and focus their mind on achieving the agreed common objective; in our case making it through to the Main Round of the EUROS.”
This season England took the opportunity to reflect on the success of the last qualifying campaign, but also try to address some of the weaknesses and areas that require improving in preparation for the next couple of years.
Head coach Pete Sturgess has introduced several new faces, allowing the players time to settle into the rhythms of international Futsal without the additional scrutiny and pressure of it being a competition season.
And the England Development squad has proved to be a conveyor belt of young talented English players who are starting to generate a real sense of competition for places within the England set-up.
“While training and development is important for the long-term health of English Futsal, we’ve not lost sight of the need to place the England team in match-based scenarios to try-out some of the technical and tactical changes that the coaching staff have been embedding into the squad,” added Walker.
“In October, we played two matches against Qatar in Abu Dhabi and won the first game 3-1 and drew the second in a 6-6 thriller.
“In November, we hosted Lithuania in London, winning the first game 2-1 and losing the second 2-0, which was particularly disappointing after dominating long-spells of the game.
“In February, we travelled to Sweden and had two very close matches in which we drew 3-3 and narrowly lost 3-2 against tough opponents. And England’s last match was in March in Cardiff, where we won 7-4 against Wales.
“With these performances, along with the progress being made behind the scenes in the training camps, the England squad are in an upbeat and confident mood ahead of the challenges next season.”
The International Four Nations Tournament in Newcastle between 5-8 June, sees England take on USA, Cyprus and Qatar and will provide another excellent opportunity for the squad to prepare and refine their performances in the pressure cauldron of the international Futsal stage.