Futsal was introduced to UK coaches relatively recently, so most of them haven’t had the opportunity to play it. The impression that’s given is that futsal is the South American game that created the master dribblers, which appeals to young players who often watch most of their football in the form of youtube highlight videos titled * BEST TRICKS AND SKILLS 2018 *. However, it is sometimes held up as the solution to all of English youth footballs problems, and I rarely hear criticism of it. How transferable is it to the 11 a side game? Is it useful for developing young player’s skills?
” Futsal can play an integral part in helping to realise the aims and ambitions of developing more proficient young football players” – The FA
“Until we start doing futsal properly, we probably aren’t going to win a football World Cup like Spain and Brazil.” Michael Skubala, England Futsal team head coach & FA’s Futsal Elite Performance Manager
The futsal ball weighs more and is less elasticated inside, making it easier to control, bounce far less, and stay low during shots. This is often considered a positive as it promotes technical football, however it reduces the transference to traditional football as it is more forgiving of poor control. Sole control is also rarely used in traditional football, as it can limit your momentum. Stopping the ball dead happens far more frequently in futsal, though this often creates an opportunity to assess options and consider a passing move.
The area used is small, benefiting changes of direction and little separation movements more than pace and strength. This can allow for greater inclusion, and transfer well to the congested areas of the pitch in the full size game. It also keeps the tempo reasonably high, and negates the need for as many long distance runs in training. Skills that beat a man leave the defender little chance of recovery before a chance is created.
The weather is often cited as a reason to opt for futsal, however this depends heavily on the climate of the country in question. In the UK we don’t see more than a week of snow most years, instead contending with wind, rain, and early darkness for much of the year. For young players, the 4pm sunset means that it’s dark by the time they’re home from school, so sessions need to be lit. Floodlit pitches can be prohibitively expensive, so the option of an indoor futsal session can make the difference between playing and not playing for some young players. With that said, astro pitches cope well with all weather conditions, and are a lot nicer to land on.
The rule set of futsal differs in many ways, one which being that after a team commits 5 fouls, any further foul is penalised with a penalty. This punishes teams that tactically foul to break up play. The clock stops when the ball is out of play, which penalises timewasting teams. These rules combine to eliminate unattractive styles of play and promote entertainment. These rules would both likely improve the traditional game, though are often ignored or overlooked when introducing the game to UK coaches.
Is futsal transferable to the traditional game? The traditional game is far more dynamic, allowing for different types of athletes and different ways of playing and winning. Futsal players may transfer across to the traditional game well, but they almost always play a central midfield role as that is what futsal prepares them for. Is it suitable for developing a young player’s skills? It can give them the confidence to play out through pressure, receive the ball in tight areas, and use their goalkeeper, among other things.
Futsal is not the only small sided game however, street football games often have no goalkeeper, which makes defending harder and creates more opportunities for attackers to pull off flashy ‘youtube highlight video’ moves. You can also use one football for your 11 a side team, your playground game, and your street football games, making it easier for young players to get involved, which really should be the primary aim of all youth development.