Saturday 28th February saw a record crowd of just over 1400 attend the Copperbox Arena for the England v Sweden Futsal international friendly where England swooped a 7 – 3 victory bouncing back from their defeat the previous day of this double-header.
I caught up with England Futsal manager, Pete Sturgess, prior kick off where he spoke about his role within The FA and the development of Futsal in this country.
“We are trying to build a programme that is going to be competitive at European level. We are now at the level where we choose opponents that will give us a real test. My job is to release a group of 14 players to be able to think for themselves, sort things out for themselves on court, and I am almost used as a checking and sounding mechanism. Although we structure training, it has to be a 2-way street. If you have a programme that puts that self-direction, ownership and choice right through the whole lot, you get players that grow up with that. At International levels you need to be a good problem solver and a good decision-maker.
Because of my role other role with The FA, working with 5-11 year old players and their coaches, I want every 5 – 11 year old playing Futsal because of what it gives. If you want good problem solvers you need to put them in a situation or game that forces them to make decisions and Futsal is absolutely brilliant for that. Additionally, you get the technical and physical return which is why Futsal is a world class development programme. But I have seen the game grow in other countries and it stands on its own and I think we have tried to open that door by saying let’s do the development bit first, but longer term the game has to stand on its own two feet. At the moment we are trying to build that really good product that everyone wants to engage in and its happening”.
England International, Luke Ballinger took home the match ball following his hat-trick.
“It was a great performance and we bounced back really well. Fair-play to the boys and a great win. It’s great to score and I think that is what has kept me in the squad. It’s good to score goals and I got 3 tonight, but the most important thing is that the boys bounced back and we got the win”.
England National Coach, Michael Skubala was delighted with the performance.
“It was a great game and I think we were superb in the first half. They knew they had to bring their ‘A’ game, not 80%, not 90% but 100% and if you start well you score goals. We did create chances yesterday, but we just didn’t put them behind the net, unlike today. We pressed to put them under pressure, and when we had chances we took them as early as possible. We remained strong as a group so that when Sweden did something a little bit different we were able to deal with it”
On the release of his new book co-written with Seth Burkett, he said: “I have been in Futsal now for 15 years and it was a way of trying to give something back. People think that Futsal is a new concept, but it’s actually not that new. So with Seth Burkett, we wrote a book called ‘Developing the Footballer through Futsal’. This is not to take away the quality of Futsal sessions, but instead how we can develop holistic players; use Futsal as a development tool but also see it as a game within its own right. The book is available on amazon and I hope it helps the coaching community”.
There is much more interest in Futsal than ever before and the record attendance certainly signifies that there is certainly a thirst for Futsal in this country.