Futsal: The Saviour of English Football?

With the English game currently in its well-publicised state of disarray, could the problem be solved by changing the way the game is taught at a grassroots level?

Futsal is played between two teams of five players on a hard pitch, with a smaller ball which has less bounce than a traditional football. All these factors create an emphasis on improvisation, creativity, technique, ball control and passing in tight spaces – things that the current national squad all seem to lack.

Futsal is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and now thanks to one Carlisle resident, Allan Tindall, it is coming to the city.
According to Mr Tindall, Carlisle Futsal was set up in September 2012 with ‘one vision, to by 2015 be capable of gaining a place in the Football Association National League structure.’

To do this Mr Tindall has set up a three year plan in which time he hopes to have met all six of the FA’s selection criteria. Those criteria are:

1. Playing Futsal at a competitive standard for at least one season, in a league and can demonstrate success
2. Have a club structure (e.g. Reserves, Junior teams) or willing to develop this
3. Demonstrate financial success
4. Have access to a venue that meets The FA National Futsal League Venue Specifications
5. Have a committed pool of players to draw upon
6. Have at least one coach that has attended The FA Coaching Futsal: A Beginners Guide course.

The three year programme has four key activities. These include developing a local Futsal league with a league pyramid to provide playing opportunities, adding a development squad alongside a women’s squad and an academy run by coaches developed in line with FA coaching courses. There will also be the introduction of a community Futsal scheme to bring the sport to Carlisle through schools, holiday camps and tournaments.

The funds raised will be evidence of Carlisle Futsal Club’s financial stability, which in turn will be used to fund more playing opportunities. Money will also be set aside for local media to promote Futsal in a strategic way in line with other club schemes.
Currently Carlisle Futsal Club only meets criteria number six on the list and Mr Tindall has said that the biggest obstacle in the potential growth of the club is a lack of facilities around Carlisle and Cumbria. However, the clubs three year programme which is fully endorsed by The Cumberland FA aims to help the club match the other five goals in their allotted time.

When asked why he thought now was a good time to attempt to bring the game to Carlisle, Mr Tindall said that it was due to “Recent changes to The FA’s youth development policy which now strictly focuses on small sided games.

“It is an ideal opportunity to set up a club and bring playing opportunities to the people of Carlisle.”

The club currently has several voluntary members of staff working alongside Mr Tindall who are concentrating on the coaching side of the game. Liam Jackson, a FA Level 1 qualified coach has been tasked with running the Under 20 development team. Mellissa Clarke, a FA Level 2 qualified coach has been brought on board with the possibility of being tasked with overseeing youth development schemes.

However, the biggest catch for the club is the involvement of Tony Elliott, former Carlisle United goalkeeper who brings a huge amount of experience, having worked with the England National Futsal team as a goalkeeping coach.

In addition Keith Melvin owner of Riverside Design, a creative web design company based in Cumbria, is overseeing the development of the online side of the club.

Currently the club has been in contact with the local council regarding funding and the possibility of a venue in which the club could use as a base. The Richard Rose Academy has also been contacted in regards to its current facility.

With other successful club templates being closely studied in towns and cities such as Middlesbrough and Manchester and with links already in place to bring teams to Carlisle in the summer for a Futsal festival, it looks as though Carlisle Futsal Club already has a bright future ahead.

For more information about playing opportunities, joining Carlisle Futsal League or a voluntary role with the club email: info@carlislefutsal.co.uk

Jak Harris

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