Futsal ready to make its mark in Australia

The following is an OPINION piece posted on the FFA website….

Futsal made its mark at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. On the opening day, Oscar scored for Brazil against Croatia with a “toe-poke”, a skill taken directly from Futsal.

Some purists of outdoor football may think this technique is a little crude, but it’s not viewed that way in Futsal. It’s a highly valued skill that unleashes a powerful shot in tight confines with little backlift.

I’m using Oscar’s Futsal-inspired goal as a point of reference for the place of Futsal in Australia. It’s played everywhere across the nation, but maybe we don’t appreciate its potential, just like the often-derided toe-poke.

Under the management changes made by CEO David Gallop, FFA has a renewed commitment to the national development of Futsal.

It’s important to make the distinction about “national development”, because there’s no denying that Futsal has flourished in the suburbs and schools across Australia. There are many Futsal people who deserve our thanks for the healthy state of Futsal participation.

But without a national strategy, the important role Futsal can play in the development of the game won’t be fully realised. That was the topic of a recent National Futsal Forum held in Sydney under the auspices of FFA.

Our ambition is to plant the seeds that will lead to Australia growing into a world force in Futsal.

FFA long ago identified Futsal as a growth area and a fantastic way to development football skills from a young age for boys and girls.

The latest edition of the National Football Curriculum holds that Futsal and other small sided games as ideal ways to fast track the development of technical as well as the decision-making skills for all footballers.

To get there, we need a specific Futsal coach education pathway from the Community to the elite levels. It goes without saying that with better Futsal coaches we will be able to produce better Futsal players.

The recent successes of our Men’s National Futsal team, the Futsalroos, at AFC tournaments and the FIFA Futsal World Cup shows that we can be very competitive on the world stage.

Our aim is that with further development and co-operation between all stakeholders, Australia could eventually become a world force in Futsal.

As a show of intent, the National Futsal Forum involved representatives from the nine Member Federations, the Australian Sports Commission and key Futsal stakeholders.

The length discussions and planning covered the following points:

• The role that Futsal can play in the development of talented players as demonstrated by leading Football nations, including Brazil

• The role Futsal can play in the growing participation at the grassroots

• The opportunity to continue to invest in the Talented Player Pathway, which includes the Australian Men’s National Futsal team, the Futsalroos, and growing the F-League (8-team interstate competition involving teams from NSW, ACT, VIC & QLD). This includes a greater focus on developing the female pathway, and the introduction of a Women’s National Futsal team over time

• Marketing and promotion of Futsal at all levels.

The key outcome of National Futsal Forum is that FFA will now organise a National Working Group, which will include representatives from each stakeholder group.

FFA has also announced that Football NSW will host of the annual FFA National Futsal Championships for the next three years. The 2015 edition of the FFA National Futsal Championships will be take place from 5-9 January and will be played across four venues (Valentine Sports Park (Open and AWD), Dural Sport and Leisure Centre (16 Years and Youth), Hawkesbury Indoor Stadium (12-15 Years) and Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre (Finals)).

Football NSW have demonstrated their commitment Futsal through the management of the F-League, which is starting to attract the most talented players from across Australia.

We have an ambitious view of what Futsal can be in Australia. Who knows? Maybe one a Futsal-inspired toe-poke will carry the Socceroos or Matildas to a World Cup victory, just like Oscar in the match against Croatia.

• The FFA National Futsal Championships had previously been hosted by Capital Football for the past 26 years. FFA would like thank Capital Football for their commitment and leadership towards the growth and development of Futsal in Australia during their hosting of the tournament.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014 – Emma Highwood, FFA Head of Community Football