From 3 to 7 October, the world's top futsal coaches plus a handful of the finest match officials in the game met in Madrid to lay the foundations of an ambitious FIFA project. Indeed, football's world governing body is looking to help futsal take the next step to becoming a global phenomenon.
This week saw coaches and match officials attend intensive futsal seminars in each of their respective areas of expertise. The aim was to instruct those involved on how to best impart their knowledge, be it the basic principles of futsal or how to ensure that the rules of the game are applied consistently.
View from the bench
Portugal national team coach Orlando Duarte, Brazil coach Paulo César de Oliveira, Netherlands coach Vic Hermans, and Vicente de Luise, former coach of Argentina and Thailand, were just four of the big names who came to hear the words of wisdom of Javier Lozano, who guided Spain to two world titles and led the theory part of the seminar.
"We wanted to give these experienced coaches a thorough grounding in the basic principles of futsal so that they can then go on and spread the message to the smaller associations. These well-known figures are the best possible ambassadors for the sport. Moreover, thanks to their input we are developing and improving our educational material ahead of future courses," explains Jaime Yarza, the FIFA official responsible for the development of futsal and beach soccer.
"They're all very keen to learn and are highly motivated. Each participant has his own story to tell. They also have unique needs and can offer different solutions to problems. Our goal is to decide what our instructors need to be teaching and to help them become better communicators. It's vital for us to know the best way to get our message across," Lozano told FIFA.com.
Right from the word go, the participants were told that the job of an instructor was completely different to that of a coach. The idea is not about teaching each of these respected professionals individual methods and tricks of the trade. "An instructor has an educational role. You are teaching them how to reach their goals, not handing it to them on a plate. The key is not to dish out solutions, but to give them the tools they need to find the solutions themselves," explained Lozano.
The seminars combined a classroom-based theory section using of pictures, videos and charts with practical demonstrations out on the pitch.
The men in black
Meanwhile, the match officials were put through their paces in another classroom by former international referee Pedro Galán. "By going over the rules and educating these future instructors we're looking to our long-term goal of making sure that the rules of the game are applied consistently and across the board," Yarza said.
After several days of hard work, the instructors had every reason to feel pleased with their efforts. Their students were already beginning to get a feel for their new role as educators. At the same time, the meeting of a group of futsal experts has helped improve the educational resources available for future courses. This continual improvement is vital as FIFA insists on the highest standards of quality and professionalism in its courses.
"The idea is to develop this sport, which has almost as many players as football. We want those involved in other disciplines to start playing futsal. Many great footballers have honed their skills on a futsal pitch. In Brazil, Ronaldo may be the perfect example of a player who began to build up his technical ability in futsal before going on to footballing success," said Yarza.
This week's events should prove to be the first step towards ensuring futsal's continued growth around the world.