A project is providing opportunities to girls in both the UK and Mexico. HANNAH DUNCAN chats to Girls United's ROMINA CALATAYUD and ABIGAIL INGRAM MORE
How futsal can help develop your players
Futsal is perhaps the most engaging, exciting, accessible and watchable format of football in the world.
There is a compelling quality to it, and there are many potential benefits it can bring to those playing the 11-a-side game.
Close control skills are developed quickly through the increased number of touches required during the game, aided by the lower bounce and greater predictability of the smaller ball.
Players are also regularly in reduced-space situations and constantly forced to make decisions, demanding speed of thought and quick reflexes.
The sheer speed of the game means there is simply no time to think of anything else when you play futsal – your mind is continuously in the moment.
The rolling substitutions law means you give it your all for five to six minutes and are rewarded with an aerobic high less easy to achieve and sustain in a 90-minute game.
The fly keeper rule, originally taken from water polo, means each player requires huge mental focus to slot in and out at different stages of the game.
And in futsal training, there is little time for distraction or poor behaviour — you are busy from start to finish.
I have seen girls as young as eight simply unable to get enough of futsal. The speed of the game, the pressure of the decision- making and the intensity of matches are incredibly addictive and wonderful fun. And they barely notice the improvement that comes with all the skills and movement repetition.
“You can spot a futsal player on the football pitch – they’re the ones more aware of space.”
You can often usually spot a futsal player on a football pitch – they’re the ones more aware of space and their teammates’ position and stroking the ball around on the grass, rather than lumping it forward. Futsal makes the ‘beautiful game’ more beautiful.
One other factor in its favour is there is no chance of a freezing day and cold hands being your first experience of futsal. Any reluctant parent who needs converting – the warmth of a futsal hall can also be very appealing! There is no wind or rain, and the pitch will never be waterlogged.
Every girl I have seen who starts with futsal always wants to go on to play football. The varied physical skills help a young player develop into a more rounded athlete, in line with current recommendations not to specialise too young.
Futsal is not solely a ‘development tool’ for football. It is distinct, and different from football.
When you treat futsal as a clearly defined sport, learn about it, learn from it, play it correctly and regularly; when you learn from futsal-developed nations and employ specialist referees; when you treat it with respect; it is then you will start to develop the true futsal skills so many also want to see on a football pitch.