Samba and Dundee is not a pairing you’d expect to see together. In fact I doubt they’ve ever been put together in the same sentence. Until now that is.
On the 6th – 10th September the Dundee International Sports Centre plays host to the IFA Under 17 Futsal World Cup, where Scotland will look to take on the likes of Spain and Brazil with a home crowd right behind them. It is sure to be an absolutely thrilling occasion.
“I can’t wait! It’s been in my diary since I heard it was going to happen,’ says Colin Harley, coach at EH futsal. “It’ll be brilliant to see the best countries in futsal coming over to these shores.”
On the 15th May stage two of the trial process took place. Those involved were players successfully picked after the first round of trials. The players selected at stage two would be the ones to make the team for the tournament so it was an important night. Despite the young heads there were some suitably skillful and mature performances on show.
“It’s been a really good standard,” Harley comments. “It’s going to be a massive challenge for the guys come September but it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for them.”
Not only will the tournament act as a special occasion for those players involved to represent their country, it should also act as a huge boost for Scottish futsal. With the support of the nation, coinciding with the tournament, Harley believes the sport could flourish.
“What it should do is open all the doors that there are for us to grow the sport across the country. The Scottish Youth Futsal Federation are doing that already. We’ve got regional hubs but there are pockets of the country that we’re not hitting.
“If we hit this right then every kid in the country will be interested in futsal and playing futsal. If they’re anything like me, or the kids that I’ve coached, they’ll be hooked.”
So what can spectators expect to see at the tournament? Having witnessed the game on several occasions, first hand, it is an end-to-end spectacle full of flare and skills. The trials on Sunday were no different. Manipulation of the ball is key and inventiveness is the ultimate aim if you’re going to grab the goals needed. What else would you expect from the sport that brought us Barcelona maestros Iniesta, Xavi and Messi?
“If a young player gets involved in futsal from an early age they’ll learn all the right things, all the right habits that they can take into an 11-a-side match and vice versa,” Harley explains.
“It teaches you discipline, it teaches you, in a small area, all the right things that you need to know about positioning, about how to use the ball. The ball is a fantastic tool in itself in that if you’re not a good football player you won’t be able to work a futsal ball.”
Not only is it a great spectacle, in itself, futsal serves as a spectacularly efficient tool to develop skills for football. If you want to be a great player then futsal-based skills are essential.
So that’s what the Under 17 Futsal World Cup has the potential to bring Scotland. By bringing the tournament here it has created a fantastic opportunity for the sport to progress. On one hand people could well have another fantastic spectacle to watch and play. On the other hand it could bring us a whole new generation of skillful footballers, which can only be a good thing for the national game.
Brazil and Spain will be the favourites for this tournament as they are years ahead of others in embracing futsal. You can play it professionally in those countries after all. But with everyone’s backing Scotland could start to follow that pathway itself. Semi-professional teams could be on the horizon and after that the possibilities are endless.
For the time being we look forward to September with a huge sense of anticipation. With everyone coming together we can show the visiting teams what Scotland has to offer. Who knows, in the future samba skills and Dundee might no be so far apart.