SFA invites teams to put their best futsal forward

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The Scottish Football Association is seeking teams to take part in Edinburgh’s first-ever futsal league.

A south-east region competition was launched this week in conjunction with an SFA remit to promote a sport that largely remains an unknown quantity on these shores.

Chris Smith, below, is organising the futsal league at Tynecastle High School

Chris Smith, below, is organising the futsal league at Tynecastle High School

However, Tynecastle High School will become a futsal hub over the next few weeks as teams battle it out to be crowned regional champions and for the right to compete for the national title in April.

With similarities to five-a-side football, futsal is played professionally in many parts of the world. The sport originated from South America in the 1930s and is a fast-paced 45 minute game played on a hard court between two teams consisting of five players. The ball is slightly smaller than a normal size football and is weighted to encourage players to keep it low when in possession.

“Futsal is really big in South America and across Europe as well,” said SFA player and coach development manager Chris Smith.

“England has also seen a big increase in participation over the last few years and they now run regular leagues, something that we are aiming to do.

“It’s a game we’re trying to grow and develop in Scotland. We want to grow the interest through the national team and the starting up of regional leagues to get more people involved will hopefully achieve that. We’ll be running the league every Wednesday evening at Tynecastle High where we have six or seven teams already signed up. There are some different rules that the guys are going to have to get a hang of before we can really get the league up and running though. If you’ve never played the game before then it’s probably going to take two or three weeks to understand it. The tempo of the game is so fast but the whole idea of futsal for us is that it’s a real kind of development tool for football. It promotes that little bit of magic or creativity in one v one situations and passing movements.”

Smith, who coaches Heriot-Watt University’s football team, continued: “We’re running it as an adult league at the moment to try and generate a bit of interest around the country but then the plan is to introduce it into youth clubs and academies to try and increase the participation at that end as well. It’s not just about turning up and playing fives with your mates, each team has to be registered through the Scottish Amateurs and each player has to be signed. So there is that whole process where there are strips and each player has to have a number on their back.”

With this year’s national champion being selected to represent Scotland abroad next year, there couldn’t be a greater incentive.

Smith said: “The Scottish National Futsal Championships are taking place in April so I need to make sure we have the league winner notified to Hampden in March. The format of the event hasn’t been decided but whoever wins the nationals will have the chance to go and represent Scotland next year in Europe.

“The plan is then in April or May to run a festival or a local cup competition and invite more teams in to play as we have the let at Tynecastle until the end of the year.”

To learn more about futsal or the new south-east region league, contact Chris Smith on 07841569806 or email chris.smith@scottishfa.co.uk