Eight coaches from Wales visit the UEFA Futsal EURO finals in Belgium
With the finals of the UEFA Futsal EURO championships currently taking place in Belgium, eight Futsal coaches from Wales were given the opportunity to attend two days of the competition during the group stages.
With the coaches able to watch games which included defending champions Spain, the highly rated Italians along with Portugal and the world famous Ricardinho the study visit was an ideal opportunity for the coaches to observe the very elite in action.
The study group consisted of coaches involved in grassroots Futsal, Futsal coach education and from the newly formed FAW Elite Futsal league sponsored by Mark Harrod. Whilst Futsal has developed quickly in Wales in a short space of time there is still plenty of room for improvement and studying the top national team coaches preparing their teams for the European championships proved the ideal learning environment.
Aiming to develop their knowledge of the game even further the coaches observed the very latest technical and tactical trends of the game. With two games per day and a chance to see some of the top national teams, players and coaches in the world of Futsal it was an eye-opening experience for all.
The opening game saw defending champions Spain take on Croatia in a highly entertaining game with Croatia grabbing a late equaliser to draw 3 – 3. In game two the group witnessed the first surprise result of the tournament as one of the tournament favourites Italy lost narrowly 3 – 1 to Slovenia in a dramatic and entertaining game
The second day of the visit included a very cagey tactical affair between Ukraine and Romania with the team from Ukraine edging the game 1 - 0. Finally it was the turn of the little maestro and one of the world’s most technically gifted players Ricardinho whose Portugal team faced Holland. The Dutch performed extremely well but the ruthlessness of the game was highlighted as despite a very close affair Portugal ran out winners 5 - 0
With UEFA pulling out all the stops to create an amazing spectacle the teams did not disappoint with very exciting games of great quality.
Jay Catton who is heavily involved with Futsal in Wales through the Welsh Premier League academies said "The standard and quality on show was excellent. We studied in detail the technical requirements of the game to ensure we are giving our young players in Wales the correct information. Futsal has been a really useful tool in the development of the WPL academy players during the winter especially with the poor weather conditions affecting grass pitches"
Head Coach of Cardiff University Paul Jones was a part of the visit and commented "This was a fantastic opportunity to see some of the world best players and teams in action and the FAW have shown great support to the coaches in the new Elite Futsal League. The technical and tactical detail was exceptional. The aim now will be to use this experience to improve our players and team to raise the quality of the league"
Richard Jones from Wrexham Futsal Club mentioned “The study visit was highly beneficial in terms of seeing how elite nations tactically approach Futsal and the technical level required. We will now be looking to apply what we have learned to support both youth and senior players in Wales”
Finally Richard Gunney Futsal Development Officer for the Welsh Football Trust added " It was great to see all the coaches studying the game in so much detail. The challenge for the coaches now is to utilise this knowledge to raise standards of the senior game in Wales even further. At a grassroots level the knowledge gathered by the group will be cascaded down and this will be integral to ensure Futsal supports the development of grassroots football even further in years to come "
The UEFA Futsal EURO championships continue with the semi final and final available to watch on Euro Sport