Increasingly popular across the country, futsal is a five-aside variant of football. With an emphasis on fast pace and technical skill, the game is generally played on an indoor pitch with hockey-sized goals. Many of world’s top football players have played futsal in their youth, including Pele, Messi and Ronaldo. It is therefore used by many today as a developmental sport for the eleven-aside game to enhance players’ ball control, passing, and even to encourage quick thinking.
Recently, Glasgow-based team, Joga Futsal, became the first youth futsal team to travel south of the border for a challenge match. YFS spoke exclusively to David Galt, owner and founder of Joga Futsal, who shared his team’s experience and his hopes for the future of the sport.
Galt, who currently plays for Queens Park FC, played futsal as a youth and credits the sport with his development in the eleven-aside game. Now through the Joga Futsal Academy, he is able to share his passion for the sport with the youth of today.
The Academy has been running for almost a year and has sixty-five children between the ages of seven and twelve years old participating in weekly training sessions, and playing at least one game a month. Galt said, “In under a year, we have grown massively as a futsal academy. We not only have youth teams, we also have futsal development centres in which we work with over thirty kids each week which is more of an introduction to futsal and acts as a pathway to our youth teams. We work closely with several boys’ clubs around Glasgow and the West. The winter will see us run Youth Futsal Leagues for fifty teams with over five hundred kids taking part in futsal every week, which is really exciting for the development of the sport in the country.”
Joga Futsal’s recent trip down south follows a festival hosted by the club in August 2016. Galt said, “We were very fortunate and grateful to host a little festival in August for our 2007’s which Carlisle Futsal Club attended. Ever since we have kept in contact and always been really keen to work closely together, which led us to organising a challenge match on November 27th.”
The club took a group of ten kids from their 2006 and 2007 age groups to represent the Academy, though Galt insists that there was more to it than representing the club. He said, “To them it was more than representing Joga Futsal Academy… it was Scotland v England! I couldn’t have asked anymore from the kids. Individually and as a team, they were absolutely fantastic in two very competitive matches- it was a truly fantastic display.”
Galt was delighted with the feedback from the kids and their parents, and expressed his gratitude to the parents for all of their support. He said, “I am a very lucky coach in respect that I work not only with a great bunch of kids but also a fantastic bunch of parents who all volunteered their time to bring their sons down for the game. I really couldn’t appreciate their support anymore and thank them all for giving up a large part of their Sunday’s.”
The club’s most recent excursion is an exciting milestone for the club but Galt believes it is just the start of many opportunities for his team. He said, “With the winter leagues working with over five hundred kids, hopefully the sport will develop even more and we hope to be at the forefront of that in Glasgow and the West. We are also in regular contact with more academies south of the border, and 2017 will see us take on opposition in Manchester and London. We are even looking into the possibility of an overseas trip to Madrid or Barcelona to take part in tournaments which, again, would be an unbelievable experience for the kids.”
Not only is the Academy looking for more opportunities for the players already involved but they hope that they can expand in 2017 and in future seasons. Galt said, “We are looking to expand our Youth teams and Development Centres across several new areas such as Paisley, Ayrshire, East & West Dunbartonshire and North & South Lanarkshire so it is really exciting times for futsal in Scotland. We are just about to announce a partnership with a futsal academy in America, who keep in regular contact around the activities that we are doing and vice versa. Initially the partnership will just see us share ideas but who knows what the future holds.”
Futsal is still developing as a sport in Scotland but Galt believes that the connection between clubs around the country is crucial. He said, “The development of the sport at the moment has been fairly slow. Russell at Futsal Escocia in Fife has been doing an amazing job for a couple of years now and he’s been fantastic in helping us to set up and grow. Unfortunately there aren’t too many people like him who have a passion for developing the sport, particularly at youth level.”
Joga Futsal have also worked closely with Queens Park, who Galt describes as being a step ahead in terms of their development. However the two sides have regular matches and will also compete against each other in the Winter leagues.
The sport is developing more quickly at adult level yet the benefits for youths in the sport are impressive. Galt said, “More people need to get involved with futsal and if they don’t know too much, come along to a kids’ game and see the benefits in attacking, defending, more touches and the fast pace. There are so many so many benefits for kids’ development.”
The future looks bright for Joga Futsal and everyone at YFS wishes them all the best with their development, and upcoming matches.