An expanding programme of fixtures at our Leeds arena is providing the opportunity for girls aged 16-18 to regularly play Futsal. Some are lifelong participants in the traditional 11-a-side game, whereas some had never played any form of football before joining their Futsal team…
Gabi Marriot of Dearne Valley College commented: “Before this, we wouldn’t have been doing anything [sport-related] in college. It’s really given us an opportunity to come here and do something that we love,” before adding, “with teams like Doncaster Belles and Manchester City creating young girls academies, plus women’s football featuring heavily in the media, [football] feels a lot more accessible for women now.” Her teammate Eleanor Sharpe added, “personally I’ve been brought up playing football, but I know that some of our [team-mates] started playing as a way of keeping fit.”
In the same week that celebrated International Women’s Day and Women’s Football Week, several groups of girls from across Yorkshire gathered at our Leeds arena to compete in a round robin of Futsal fixtures. Some teams, such as Dearne Valley, have been playing Futsal regularly for several months. Bradford College were visiting for the first time, whilst one of the teams comprised a mixture of individuals from several sides that simply wanted to be involved.
This flourishing network of girls Futsal teams has grown during a sporting calendar year that has seen Sport England launch their ‘This Girl Can’ campaign, which went viral, and has also seen the England national women’s team play a televised friendly against Germany in front of a record-breaking crowd of 45,619 at Wembley Stadium.
Marriot also noted that the increased interaction between the teams within the Futsal community was a key aspect to match days. “Having a social aspect is great because you get to meet different people, and it’s still as competitive, but you get to talk and have fun at the same time.” This is underlined by the fact that a common theme is for teams to completely mix players for the final round of games, before staging an all-encompassing penalty shootout.
Furthermore, the momentum built for the game of Futsal during the 2014 World Cup has taken the sport to the forefront of football development. The sport is now set to be included in Olympic Games, and as its popularity exponentially grows, a “new kid on the block” is leading the way by combining the sport with education partnerships.
Following our affiliation with Association of Colleges (AoC) Sport, we’re now set to launch a nationwide education and games programme which will present joint business venture opportunities to Colleges and Academies, as well as Football Clubs from the top 7 levels of the league pyramid.
A pilot model of our National Colleges & Academies (NCA) League is currently running in Swindon and will be launched nationwide in September. Regional divisions will be based at each of the four arenas; with national finals being staged in Birmingham.
Students that enrol onto the Futsal education scheme have access to BTEC levels 1-3 sports courses, providing them with pathways into employment and Higher Education. The BTEC level 1 course requires no specific qualifications for entry, and the BTEC level 3 Sports Diploma is the equivalent of 3 A-Levels. The programme is available to girls as well as boys aged 16-18.
Frank Rodriguez, our Managing Director, said the following: “This programme provides unique enrichment for Colleges, Academies and for the young people from these establishments. What we have developed is unique and world class. It is a fantastic opportunity for any establishments or individuals that share our own drive, ambition and commitment to quality.”
If your team are interested in joining the girls Futsal network at the Leeds arena, you can contact Nigel Thewlis on [email protected] For opportunities elsewhere, contact Marcus Seaton on [email protected] or call us on 0121 554 3296.