Futsal – From Latin America to UEL

Daniel Grimes looks through the history of Futsal and it's journey to UEL.

Futsal is a fast paced, indoor five-a-side variant of football that was established in Uruguay during the 1930s, and experienced worldwide growth since the 1980s.

Despite being seen as a sport made for Latin America, there has been a growing interest for futsal in England.

As of 2013 a study recorded over 2,000 futsal clubs competing nationwide, a reasonably high amount for a sport that’s still seen as a niche, and this rise in participation is reflected at the University of East London.

UEL futsal coach, and Genesis Futsal Club secretary Trevor Tamatave told Rising East about the growing popularity of the sport.

I’ve seen a big rise I got involved with the futsal setup at UEL when it first started in 2011. Back then we had about 10 students that would take part in futsal, now we get about 30 individuals per week.

“We have the Men’s first team and Men’s second team, and we also have the Women’s team, On top of this we have the social event where we get around 15 to 20 people each week.”

Tamatave, whose first team at UEL were runners up in their league this season, even suggested that he can see the sport continuing to grow in the near future,

“There’s definitely been a big rise of people taking part and getting involved with futsal over the last few years, I can see it still growing … Each year we have more people finding out about it and wanting to get involved which is great.”

Despite its growth, futsal is yet to be fully recognised as a national sport. The National side which was formed by the FA in 2003 are ranked 66th in the world rankings, behind countries such as Lebanon, Kuwait and Solomon Islands.

However, Tamatave still has faith in the future of the sport. When asked if futsal in England could become as big as it is in Brazil and Spain, he responded quite positively.

“Yeah definitely,  although it may take some time In Brazil and Spain it’s like a cultural thing.

“They have the facilities, sports halls and outdoor courts with good weather so you get a lot of people taking part.

In England you have the traditional five-a-side which futsal is trying to compete with, but you are seeing a lot of new people trying futsal.”

Tamatave’s hope for the future of futsal in England comes from the high amount of young people getting involved with the sport.

“You’re seeing a lot of young people getting involved in futsal, and there’s many youth futsal competitions It’s becoming more mainstream for young players to get involved with futsal.

And this view is reflected in the stats. Of the 2014 futsal teams recorded to be competing in 2013, 1,100 of them were participating in FA Youth Futsal Festivals.

However, Tamatave does have some concerns regarding the way that futsal is ran by the FA in this country.

“The FA need to be doing a lot more work. They need to be pushing futsal, because at the moment they aren’t doing as much as they should be doing.”

Overall, futsal is a sport that is growing at a pace that almost matches it’s gameplay, teams are now competing at all levels, from the England National team that will continue to try and rival the world’s best, to the U12 Futsal Festivals designed in order to create a better future for the Sport.

Meanwhile, futsal looks  to continue it’s rise in popularity, with both competitive and leisurely participation rates at UEL, being higher than ever before.

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