Last year the Football Association announced that it will no longer fund the elite England Futsal teams and would significantly reduce funding for the grassroots sport. This meant scrapping the men’s senior, U19 and U23 teams and ending plans to set up a senior women’s team.
In a statement at the time, the FA said the decision had been made because of “unavoidable budget cuts associated with Covid-19” and that “we have to prioritise our core functions.” This involved “a duty to support our men’s and women’s senior teams in their efforts to win major tournaments.” Inevitably this was met with huge disappointment from the emerging futsal community in the UK.
Meanwhile, other European countries are investing heavily in futsal, which is not only considered to provide an important alternative opportunity for people of all ages to participate in sport but it is also seen as a prominent part of the development of young, talented footballers.
The sport, which is mainly played indoors with a size-4 ball, is a variation of 5-a-side football and consists of two 20-minute halves, designed to provide a high paced, energetic, fast flowing game. Many elite football players endorse and speak of its importance to their own progress.
Max Kilman, who plays for Wolves, played 25 matches for the England Futsal squad and said: “Futsal definitely helped my football, especially when I was 15 or 16. It makes you smarter, more aware and quicker.”
Since then, this year, new plans to develop the sport in England have emerged with the aim of increasing visibility and building awareness. Having designed and installed numerous multi-use indoor sporting facilities for local community usage over the years, we have noticed how much more variation is on offer in terms of the activities people of all ages and abilities can participate in. We hope to see many more embracing futsal as part of their programme of sport. Many believe that the only way to secure it’s future is by inclusion into the Olympic portfolio but there’s a lot we can do at grassroots level to help the sport grow in recognition and popularity and hopefully we’ll get the opportunity to be part of that story.