If you’d asked me 12 months ago what Futsal was I’d have offered you a waffly answer around the fact I suspected it was some sort of variant of football, it wouldn’t have required to many probing questions to ascertain you’d exhausted my knowledge on the subject!
Fast forward 12 months and I’ve just spent a great season following the trials and tribulations of Manchester Futsal Club having responded to an advert they posted looking for a club photographer. Whilst the Grand Finals have just been and gone and apparently few were surprised Helvecia won there fourth title in succession there’s the Futsal Cup still to come – this weekend I’ll be heading to the Futsal Arena Birmingham to cover Liverpool Futsal Club in the qualifying tournament.
Whilst Helvecia may have won the Grand Final (again!) the general feeling was the gap was closing, Manchester despite losing 4-1 can quite rightly argue that the scoreline flattered there opponents and they gave them a good game, the expressions and reactions of Helvecia coaching staff and players to key decisions throughout the game certainly showed they knew they were in a game!
In the Grand Final, whilst the scoreline reads Helvecia 5-2 Sheffield, at one point the game was delicately poised at 2-2 and Sheffield had more than a few opportunities to take the lead. It will be interesting to see how close teams can get to loosening Helvecias grip on success at the Futsal Cup in Birmingham in July
So for those that don’t know and whilst I’m sure wikipedia or similar will explain it better, Futsal is a five a side variant of football, but not in the vain of five a side seen up and down the country in Power Leagues – this is more akin to thinking mans five a side! Its not an uncommon site to see coach and assistant coach in deep discussions on the sidelines as the match unfolds, sliding fingers around ipads or moving counters around hand held white boards until a tactical agreement has been reached.
I may not understand the technical side yet – and quite possibly never will but if pushed to find similarities with other sports I’d say its almost like a cross between ice hockey, basketball and five a side. The focus is on skills, tactics are key and slow build ups bursting into breath taking action is very much the order of the day.
A match consists of two 20 minute half’s, time is stopped when the ball is out of play and there is a limit on how long a keeper can keep possession and kick ins (there are no throw ins!) are also on a time limit. The physically demanding nature of the sport is demonstrated in the number of substitutions, whilst theres only 5 on the court at any one time, a squad can be up to 12 players with rolling substitutions occurring throughout the game – its not uncommon in the dying minutes of a game to see the goalkeeper of a losing team substituted whilst in procession only to return to the field frantically as his team lose the ball for example, or some teams opt to do without a keeper altogether and go “fly”.
Next month (1st and 2nd July) there is a world record attempt in Middlesbrough that will attempt to play a game for 36 hours straight, curiosity may well get the better of me on that one having seen how physically demanding the 40 minute variant of the game is – pictures perhaps to follow! Anyhow its all in the name of charity so well worthy of support.
Speaking of Middlesbrough, a special mention must go to the “Ultras” the most passionate and vocal fans I’ve encountered in amateur/semi pro sport if your near Middlesbrough or they come to a town near you its well worth taking in a match just to witness them first hand!
For those wanting to see more the FA have produced a great highlight video from last weekends action that’s well worth watching.
Still young enough to play? Its well worth a try if your looking for something offering a little more depth than a five a side kick about, the standard in the FA North, Central and Southern leagues is high, details of clubs can be found here, the drop down navigates between the North, Central and Southern leagues. For those wanting to dip there toe in the water at a lower standard it seems to me there are plenty of regional leagues to look at, drop a line to you local FA Futsal League club and I’m sure they’ll be only to grateful to help point you in the right direction.
My futsal pictures can be found here and with an unashamedly northern bias checkout the websites of;
All offer information and links to a whole host of Futsal related material.
Keywords: English FA, Futsal, Grand Finals, Marc Taylor, Marc Taylor Sports Photographer, Photography, Sport, Sports Photography, Surrey, Surrey Sports Park
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