Guest feature: Russell Taylor of Futsal Escocia
The great Xavi once said "In futsal, you see whether a player is really talented. You notice the small details in quality, class and tactical understanding".
In futsal you have limited space, the equivalent of 37 v 37 on an 11 a side football pitch.
Futsal is fast and intense. Your mind is constantly active. It is both physically and mentally challenging.
In possession you are required to think fast:
• where and when to move and create space for you our your teammate
• when to pass, dribble or shoot
You have to be technically good and have good game awareness and intelligence to find space, retain possession and create goalscoring opportunities.
Once you lose possession you are required to:
• have the desire to work hard for the team
• track back and follow runners
• press at the right time
• have a tactical understanding
• regain possession without conceding a goal
Every player on the court is involved in the game. Intelligent and more technical players get the opportunity to shine, both on and off the ball.
In my opinion, the way Scottish football is structured, players with the aforementioned attributes can be overlooked in favour of fast, powerful kids that can kick the ball harder. These kids are less talented but are more productive on a football pitch at that time.
Kids start off playing fun 4's and 5's and those with the pace, power and will to win dictate the majority of games. Sometimes you'd be better playing 1 or 2 a side as they are the only players touching the ball.
Towards the end of 5's when space is more limited and the game is more challenging, what happens? We move to a bigger pitch and bigger goals. Who does this benefit?The same process happens on the transition from 7 to 11 a side.
By this time, academies are full of players that have been excelling on a bigger pitch with more space. Do they have the same qualities once all the players mature and physically develop? Are they intelligent enough to break down a team that parks the bus with 21 players playing in less than half a pitch?
Personally, I feel academies frequently (not always) recruit the wrong players. They recruit what appear to be good players, but once you look closer a lot of the players lack in game intelligence and awareness.
I believe the structure of our game dictates the type of player selected. Although we play non competitive until under 13 age group, there's far to much emphasis on selecting a winning team from 7 years old. Winning comes before development.
I set up a winter futsal league 3 years ago and numbers have continued to rise year on year. This winter we hav e an amazing 93 teams involved in futsal in Fife, with over 900 players involved.
You may or may not be surprised to know that although the leagues have been successful and that 18 of the top 20 players in world football come from futsal backgrounds, very few people from the professional game have came to have a look at these players.
The question is why? We should be embracing something that has a proven track record of developing WORLD CLASS players.
If you take the time to look, there's intelligent, creative and technically gifted players out there.