Ahead of the new National Futsal Series, see how Loughborough's teams are prepping

Saturday 21 Sep 2019
Neil Morgan is one of Loughborough's key players for their campaign in the inaugural National Futsal Series

Our National Futsal Series kicks off on Sunday 29 September, with the official launch taking place before England’s international against Germany at St George’s Park.

The NFS signals an exciting new era for Futsal in England, with 25 men’s teams participating in one national (Tier 1) and two regional (Tier 2 North & South) leagues.

Loughborough Students Futsal Club (LSFC) – runners up last season to London Helvecia in the now defunct National Futsal League – have both a senior team and development squad competing in 2019-20. Their roster includes England forwards Will Rooke and Ben Mortlock and former Futsal Lions defender Neil Morgan.

“I think it's important that the FA are launching the National Futsal Series so we can try and take Futsal to a higher level,” says Loughborough’s co-captain Morgan, who also played football for Nottingham Forest and Macclesfield.

Loughborough have prepared for the new campaign with a number of friendly games

“The past few years have been fantastic for Futsal, but if we want to push on and develop home-grown players then this seems like the right step.”

The FA first introduced competitive Futsal leagues in 2003 and now estimate there are over 10,000 players participating, making it one of the fast-growing sports in England

And the aim of the NFS is to further drive participation as well as provide Futsal with a distinct identity at both grassroots and national level. This, in turn, will help establish clear pathways for emerging talent from one to the other.

To help achieve this goal, matches will be staged at a central venue each week to showcase a higher volume of Fustal in each region and, in doing so, inspire new talent. Instead of home and away matches, each team will have two opportunities per season to stage a full programme of fixtures.

Loughborough's coach Joao Almeida hales from Portugal, current Futsal champions of Europe

“The change to central venues is going to make things very interesting,” says Loughborough’s Portuguese head coach Joao Almeida.

“All these new initiatives to try to improve Futsal and make it bigger in England are very exciting. England needs to be one of the lighthouses of Futsal and the launch of the NFS will help as well as bring a new, fresh air to the game.”

Almeida started coaching Futsal in his native Portugal before moving to Bahrain. He was lured to Loughborough in 2016 after being impressed by the campus’ rich sports pedigree.

Loughborough is the most successful university Futsal side in the UK, winning the past two British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) titles.

“We have a really impressive set up here,” says Almeida. “The FA’s commitment to Futsal has certainly helped attract players. The next step is to catch up with [reigning European champions] Portugal and [world number two side] Spain.

“By coincidence, right now, Portugal are European champions in both Futsal and the 11-aside game. And they have the world’s best player in each format. Everyone knows Ronaldo, but his Futsal equivalent is Ricardhinho, who has scored almost 150 goals for Portugal. He is without doubt the Ronaldo of Futsal.”

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are quoted in our 2018 Futsal strategy, which was ultimately a catalyst for the birth of the NFS.

Both players praise Futsal for helping them develop their touch and speed. Messi reveals he played Futsal on the streets of Argentina as a kid, while Ronaldo states, “If it wasn’t for Futsal, I wouldn’t be the player I am today.”

Futsal differs from regular football in a number of significant ways. It’s played at ferocious pace and there’s a far greater emphasis on close control. The ball and goals are also smaller and since 2006 throw-ins have been replaced with kick-ins, which must be taken within four seconds.

“Futsal has such a high tempo,” says Loughborough’s other co-captain Alex Turfrey.

“There’s a lot of ball contact you just don’t get in football. The game is frantic and fun. It’s as taxing on the mind as the feet and a test of teamwork and fitness. I think it’s just a great grassroots sport because you always feel so involved.”

Along with the men’s teams competing in the NFS, Loughborough also boasts a strong women’s side, who will play in the Women’s National Futsal Series this season.

Lexi Spokes and Rosie Anderson warm-up for Futsal training

Their squad includes former MK Dons forward Rosie Anderson and ex-Crystal Palace defender Alexia Spokes. Both were inspired to get into Futsal after training with the England deaf team at St George’s Park last year.

“It was just a great experience and an opportunity to try out Futsal for the first time,” says Anderson, who started in tennis before switching to football. “I couldn’t believe how quick and technical the game was. I was hooked instantly and also really impressed by the quality of players on show.

“It was brilliant that our introduction to Futsal was not only against the England deaf team but at St George’s Park, too,” adds Spokes, who captained Palace Women at youth level.

Many of the women’s team also play football, with both formats having seen a spike in female participation since the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France this summer.

“Futsal has grown massively,” says Loughborough women’s club chair Erin Pruett. “We have two women’s teams catering for all standards. After the FIFA Women’s World Cup, we had about 50 girls sign up for either Futsal or football trials this season. There was a huge surge and clearly the buzz around the Lionesses had a lot to do with that.

Loughborough women's captain Sophie Heaselgrave is ready for the new season

“Futsal is becoming more and more attractive,” adds women’s Futsal captain Sophie Heaselgrave, who's been playing for three years. “I think the reason why is because it’s a fun format in its own right and a tool to develop in 11-aside.

"A lot of our female players play Futsal and football and we are stronger at both by competing concurrently in both.”

The first round of fixtures take place on Saturday 29 September. For more information about the NFS, please contact competition secretary John Folwell below:

Contact John

National Futsal Series

Tier One

London Helvecia Futsal Club
Manchester Futsal Club
Kent United Futsal Club
Loughborough Students Futsal Club
Team United Birmingham
ProFutsal London
Worcester Futsal Club
Bolton Futsal Club

Tier Two (North)

Derby Futsal Club
Cheshire Futsal Club
University of Nottingham Futsal Club
Washington Futsal Club
Durham Palatinates
Sunderland University - Team Sunderland
Loughborough Students Futsal Club (Development Team)
Birmingham Tigers Futsal

Tier Two (South)

Bedford Futsal Club
London Genesis Futsal Club
Sussex Futsal Club
MK Mavericks Futsal Club
Chelsea FC Foundation Futsal
London Escolla
London Helvecia Futsal Club (Development Team)
Kent UTD Futsal Club (Development Team)
London Baku United


Liverpool Futsal Club
London Helvecia Futsal Club
Kent United Futsal Club
Bedford Futsal Club
Team United Birmingham
Loughborough Students Futsal Club
Derby Futsal Club
University of Liverpool
York Futsal Club

By Ben Jacobs