ESSEX will have two proud representatives at the FA National Youth Futsal Festival in Birmingham as Horndon Youth Under 10s and West Ham United Under 10s Girls compete for honours after excelling at county and regional stages.
The event will be hosted by the @Futsal venue on the weekend of the 28th and 29th June and Horndon and the Hammers will be amongst the participants following regional success. They were victorious against teams from Suffolk, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire recently at Gosling Sports Park in Welwyn Garden City – now they’re keen for more.
“We’re looking forward to representing Essex and we can’t wait for the day!” said Clare Mitchell, Secretary of Horndon YFC. “Our players, parents and coaches enjoyed taking part in the County and Regional Futsal Finals immensely. We were lucky enough to have two teams enter in different county events, both winning their respective rounds. Only one could progress, but the camaraderie as the players rooted for each other is great for the club.”
“The key to the success of the side was down to a mixture of things. The players in the team can all play a variety of positions in the mini-soccer game and this aspect complements their own individual abilities so it rarely left them out of position. It helps that the whole squad are good friends and want to work hard for each other, too.”
Recognised and supported by FIFA, UEFA and The FA, Futsal is now played worldwide and it differs from the regular five-a-side style familiar to many in the UK. The main differences are marked lines rather than rebound boards as well as square goals, heavier and ‘reduced bounce’ balls and a strict five-foul discipline law. Futsal encourages closer ball control and the game can prove a useful tool for players looking to improve their touch and technique.
Clare details that Futsal is important to Horndon’s Under 10s, explaining: “We’re lucky enough to have a professional coach who brings different aspects of the game into training. It didn’t take long before the boys were hooked, and the progression to tournaments was a natural next step. They have excelled at seven-a-side and we’re on to 9v9 next season. The majority are playing at an advanced level and train regularly with a local advanced development centre.”
As part of an enormous Futsal schedule organised by the Essex County FA and several partners, schools were invited from across the whole county to take part in Under 12s, 14s and 16s age groups, all held at Sporthouse in Barking. Then each of Essex’s four group areas held a club qualifier for Under 10s Boys, with County Finals also at Sporthouse. The Under 10s Girls went to a straight County Final at Riverside Ice & Leisure Centre in Chelmsford.
Horndon and West Ham are the last teams standing and Hammers coach, Greg Regan, commented: “The girls really enjoyed themselves, and played fantastically at both events in front of big crowds. It was also good to have ex-England international Sian Williams present them with their winners’ medals at the Regional Finals in Herts. We have some really strong attacking players who can cause any team problems with their speed, skill and movement.”
“Our composure and confidence on the ball also shone through, I thought. I’m a huge fan of Futsal and think young players benefit hugely from playing it regularly. I hope to work more into our set-up at West Ham. Our players have gelled together really well. They all work really hard for each other and have been rewarded for their efforts. They can’t wait to fly the flag for Essex and, hopefully, do well in Birmingham.”
Essex County FA Football Development Officer, Andrew Crowl, added: “I’d like to add my congratulations to our two regional winners for their fantastic achievements and thank everyone who was involved with promoting and supporting the County Finals this year. We wish Horndon and West Ham the best of luck at the National Finals.”
“They emerged from over 1,100 young people who were involved this year across the county, which is an incredible figure and a sign of how popular Futsal is becoming in Essex. This year, some age groups saw up to three times as many teams taking part at the County Finals compared with previous years. People are starting to see the value of Futsal as a training aid for football. It’s an exciting format and it can be played in any sports hall.”