SoccerClub spoke to Lee Carter of the Gauteng Futsal Association about creating a futsal platform for South Africa’s next generation of footballers. DEAN WORKMAN explores.
Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Xavi and even the great Pele are just some football icons to have roots in futsal.
For decades now, futsal – a five-a-side version of football played on a hard indoor court – has been a popular and much-loved sporting discipline, especially in South America and southern Europe.
The aspects of the sport, such as the tight spaces and influence of dribbling ability, have helped mould many footballing greats with even Cristiano Ronaldo admitting the sport made him the player he is today, ‘During my childhood in Portugal, all we played was futsal. The small playing area helped me improve my close control, and whenever I played futsal, I felt free.’
The South African Football Federation (Saff), which has been running for about two years out of Cape Town, is an official affiliate member of the Asociación Mundial de Futsal (AMF), the global governing body of futsal.
With leagues already running across Cape Town, Carter spoke to SoccerClub about the newly assembled Gauteng Futsal Association (GFA) and the plans on a national scale, with Saff sending the players to the U20 World Championships in Valledupar, Colombia from 17-29 November.
‘We want to focus on the youth, we believe anything in terms of football has to be done from a development point of view. So, we will have futsal training programmes, with accredited coaches, where kids of any age can come down and we will teach them the techniques and rules of the game.’
From there, leagues across Gauteng will be set up, as they are currently running in Durban and Cape Town, from U13 all the way to open sides where the players will be played in a strength vs strength basis.
The idea behind the youth development is to grow a pool of players and eventually create a professional league.
‘In about 5-10 years we want to try and establish a professional league where there are players who will be paid and traded among the clubs set up for futsal,’ added Carter.
With the leagues set up to have a clear professional environment, very different to the social five-a-side arenas across the country, Carter believes futsal could offer an alternative avenue into professional sport for players who may be better-suited to the aspects of the Olympic sport and just miss out on getting a contract with the Premier Soccer League.
The people competing in these various leagues will be selected for a Gauteng selection side which will then be playing in national championships, along with the sides from Durban and Cape Town, where Saff will select a national squad to compete in the various AMF World Championships.
Trials for the GFA will be held at Wits University on 17 November with registrations from 9am and trials to run from 10am to 3pm.
The trials are open for age groups from U13 to opens to prepare for the men’s AMF Futsal World Cup in Argentina (April 2019) and the U13s in Barcelona (November 2019).
All those wishing to attend trials need to register online at http://www.gautengfutsal.co.za/trials-registration/. Players, teams, interested coaches or sponsors can also direct all enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.