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Rival national Futsal championship kicks off

Rival national Futsal championship kicks off
January 12, 2015

With Football Federation Australia’s National Futsal Championships having been successfully hosted by Football NSW in Western Sydney last week, this week sees a rival event, the Australian Futsal Association (AFA)'s National Titles get underway in the NSW capital.

The running of the AFA’s Junior National Titles (from 13th to 16 January) and Senior Titles (from 16th to 19th January) provides evidence of the split in the administration of the small sided football variant.

Football NSW’s hosting of the ‘official’ National Futsal Championships for the first time in 10 years, primarily at its newly built state of the art Futsal facility at Valentine Park, has been acclaimed as a success.

Tournament Director Phil Brown stated “we’d like to acknowledge Football Federation Australia and the futsal referee community to their commitment to the tournament, led by the Head of Delegation Adrian Tamplin.

“This tournament has seen an increase in the number of appointed referees to four for every match, which aligns to the number of referees that officiate at international fixtures.”

However, with administration of Futsal in Australia being split, AFA (formerly known as Vikings Futsal), a body independent of Football Federation Australia, is hosting its National Titles.

At issue, is a longstanding disagreement over the nature of the game of Futsal in Australia.

As explained by the FFA's former Head of Game Development Matthew Bulkeley "one of FFA's overarching technical priorities is to harness Futsal as a general development tool for outdoor football while at the same time growing participation in Futsal throughout the country."

However, AFA Administration Manager Ian West told Australasian Leisure Management in 2012, "Futsal should be recognised as a sport in its own right and not just a fill in activity between football seasons."

While there have been many discussions about bodies representing Futsal coming together, administration of the game remains as divided as ever – a situation further complicated by NSW Futsal (another independent group) recently splitting from AFA.

In addition, numeous multi-sport centre operators are offering variants of 5-a-side and 6-a-side football at facilities around Australia in many cases with no affiliation with FFA, AFA or any other bodies.

During Ben Buckley’s time as FFA Chief Executive some sort of reconciliation did seem possible.

Released in 2007, the FFA’s National Football Development Plan promised a "dedicated Futsal Development Plan (to) focus on more effective integration with the outdoor game."

Apparently long completed, the national plan for Futsal has never been released by the FFA.

Since 2008, FFA has progressively introduced the concept of 'Small-Sided Games' (SSG) a modified version of football broadly similar to Futsal, structured to more suitably address the game development needs of young players.

However, in August last year FFA announced a "renewed commitment" to the national development of the sport after hosting a National Futsal Forum held in Sydney, with current FFA Chief Executive David Gallop announcing the introduction of a series of management changes to administer the game and pledging to deliver the long awaited national plan for the sport. Yet, when Gallop released the FFA's 'National Plan for the Whole of Football' in September last year, no mention was made of Futsal and there have been no subsequent statements or reports on Futsal from the FFA in the following months.

Born in Uruguay in 1930, Futsal is a variant of football played on a basketball court-size pitch, with hockey-size goals and mainly played indoors.

Using a smaller ball with less bounce than a regular football, futsal is played between two teams of five, including a goalkeeper, on a hard court surface delimited by lines.

Widely played in southern Europe and South America, Futsal's surface, ball and rules create an emphasis on improvisation, creativity and technique as well as ball control and passing in small spaces and has become synonymous with flair with players such as Pelé, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo paying tribute to the beneficial effects of playing Futsal in their youth. 




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