Joga Futsal Club in Glasgow began their 2019 in some style, winning the The U13 Fenice Venezia F5 Futsal Cup in Venice.
The triumph marks Joga's second trophy in six months, with their U11 side claiming the Montesilvano Futsal Cup last June.
The Venice tournament covered four different age groups, U9's, U11's, U13's and U15's in which had 44 teams were involved from various countries. The U13 section involved 10 teams.
YFS spoke to David Galt from the Joga Futsal Academy to reflect on this impressive feat. "We were made aware of (the tournament) due too our growing reputation as an established Futsal Academy across Europe.
"In the last year we have made four trips to overseas futsal tournaments. At each one we have performed extremely well both on and off the court which has helped to build our reputation around Europe.
"In the summer of 2018 we took part in the Montesilvano Futsal Cup in which our U13 Squad played Venice Futsal in a really good game. After the tournament the team had kept in contact with us and invited us over and we gladly accepted the invite."
Speaking about his side's preparations for the tournament, Galt said, "Preparations for the tournament were good, we had a number of specific training sessions with our team which focused on various aspects of the game, attacking and defending set pieces, new ideas. We had a number of friendly matches and finished off with some tough opposition against Hamilton Accies 2006 Academy Squad.
"We had tried to obtain some sponsorship to cover the costs of tracksuits/polo shirts/game kits for the trip but unfortunately this was unsuccessful, and we had to cover all the costs.
"It’s an area in which we have struggled so far, It has been a successful year in taking four teams on trips abroad but all have been done with very limited financial support and no fundraising.
"We did receive some sponsorship for our Montesilvano Futsal Cup in June but other than that all costs are covered by their parents, which is something we are hopeful to change for 2019 (anybody out there willing to help please do so)."
David also spoke of his pride with his side's achievement. "I am extremely proud of the success in Venice, particularly as several the boys have been away with us now at U13 age group and have been left to feel disappointed with final placings despite positive performances so it was particularly rewarding to see their hard work and commitment towards to futsal being rewarded.
"For others it was their first time coming abroad with us and experience international futsal (which is different to Scottish futsal) so overall couldn’t be any prouder of all the boys involved. Our U13 captain Cooper Knox was also voted player of the tournament which for us was a very proud moment as he’s a kid with a great attitude towards futsal and one we use as a role model for others (despite only being 12) so it was great to see his hard work being rewarded."
There was also an opportunity to reflect on what had been a very successful 2018 for the club. "We started off 2018 with an international futsal trip to France, finishing fourth in the U13 section of the Squadra Cup, a fantastic achievement for our first ever international experience of futsal and competing against some of the biggest clubs across Europe.
"We continued to grow throughout the year, introducing new age groups into our Academy pathway and now in a position to offer futsal to kids aged five through to youths aged 16. June 2018 saw us take both our U13's and U11's boys over to Montesilvano Futsal Cup in Italy, a prestigious tournament attended by teams from all over the world including the likes of Brazil, Japan, USA, and Australia.
"Our U13's finished overall 10th out of 28, despite some overall positive performances including 5-1 against Japanese opposition and a 4-1 victory of hosts Sporting Marconi, another top experience where they all continued to grow as futsal players.
"Our U11's went all the way in the competition coming back home to Scotland as champions, beating Italian, French and Spanish opposition along the way. One of our players was named player of the tournament at U11's age group (Jacob Donnelly) a proud moment for us as coaches and for Jacob, a kid with great commitment towards futsal.
"We have finished off the year with some thrilling matches with our friends from Carlisle Futsal Club, three weeks of fixtures vs Hamilton Accies and the introduction of our Winter Futsal Leagues which has a number of grassroots clubs from Glasgow and surrounding areas and also Academy sides from St Mirren and Hamilton Accies involved."
After a successful 2018, David is looking forward to what can be achieved in 2019. "This year we hope to continue and grow as a Futsal Academy, we will be adding more age groups on to our academy pathway. Despite just being back from Italy a couple of days our preparations for the rest of 2019 are already well under way and we have signed up to tournaments in Spain and Italy already whilst looking into others across Europe for the later parts of the year. Our efforts in 2018 have seen us been invited to America and Australia whilst even have futsal teams from south America get in touch too.
"Success for us is not accounted by the trophies which are won, it is rewarding but ultimately to continue to see kids and youths grow and develop as players and people are the most important aspect. Continuing to provide an environment in which every participant can learn, enjoy and develop.
"For us we just want to continue to grow both the game of futsal but more so continue grow the awareness of the game across the nation. People have become more aware of the game of futsal but now it’s about understanding it as its own sport and not purely just as sideshow to football.
"We understand football will always be the number one sport in this country and not something we wish to change but Futsal only becomes a benefit when done properly. We believe we offer a unique futsal experience here in Scotland one in which offers the best opportunities for both futsal players and football players."