Building for Futsal growth in Asia

Development of the indoor game is currently on the agenda, with a four-day FIFA/AFC Futsal Seminar on the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2012 legacy for Asia having kicked off on Thursday 13 June in Kuala Lumpur.

Among the primary objectives of the seminar are to analyse and review the performance of Asian teams at the FIFA Futsal World Cup Thailand 2012, discuss new developments in Futsal, analyse whether the organisation of the FIFA Futsal World Cup on Asian territory had any positive influence on the further development of the sport, and exchange information on latest trends.  Of Asia’s five participants at Thailand 2012, three – Japan, Iran and Thailand – were eliminated in the Round of 16, while Australia and Kuwait did not advance past the group stage.

This week’s event in the Malaysian capital is intended to provide a platform in which to exchange information in order to develop futsal on the continent, and to update the coaches and instructors with the modern methodology in the five-a-side game.  Included among those taking part are the head coaches of the national futsal teams who participated in last year’s AFC futsal Championship finals - which doubled as preliminaries for the FIFA futsal World Cup - and qualifiers, plus AFC Elite futsal Instructors.

Also in attendance at the opening were AFC General Secretary Dato' Alex Soosay and Football Association of Malaysia General Secretary Lt. Gen. (Rtd) Dato’ Azzudin. Facilitating the seminar is FIFA Head of Education and Technical Development Jurg Nepfer who stressed to participants that futsal must been given the necessary backing in order to reach its full potential.

“There’s no doubt that there are lots of challenges that await you,” Nepfer told attendees. “Futsal has to receive a reasonable status in the Member Associations, be integrated in the long-term development of the federations, given better awareness of and, as always, given enough financial resources.

There can be only top futsal if there is a futsal league or leagues in the country.
FIFA Head of Education and Technical Development Jurg Nepfer

“But sometimes we need to work on ourselves as well. That is we need to have enough proactive attitude, better promotion of the game, higher insistence and better innovation for the game.”

In addition to in-depth tactical and technical analysis from Thailand 2012, the agenda in Kuala Lumpur also includes discussions on the issues surrounding futsal in Asia, including a strategic five-year plan for the development of the indoor game in the continent, and the roles and responsibilities of the member associations.

With local expansion in mind, Nepfer has also stressed on the importance of national leagues and player development. “There can be only top futsal if there is a futsal league or leagues in the country,” Nepfer continued.

“On player development, futsal is an ideal tool to develop football players. Most if not all the big players in Brazil, Spain, Argentina, Portugal and others went through the futsal school. This is the reason why we took futsal as part of our development programme.”

Encouragement from the top
AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa encouraged participants to utilise the knowledge attained in Kuala Lumpur and apply it in their own country.

“Our futsal teams are becoming more and more competitive on the global stage and, while we can take pride in this, we must endeavour to improve so that one day we will see a team from Asia crowned world champions,” he said.  “This road to glory starts in each member association which is why it is imperative that the participants take what they learn here at the seminar and apply it to the development of futsal back in their own country.”

AFC General Secretary Dato’ Alex Soosay said that while there is plenty of development work to be done across the continent, the ever-increasing level of competition is an encouraging sign.

“The progress of Asian teams can be gauged from the fact that Asian futsal powerhouses can’t guarantee themselves success whenever they take to the court,” he said. “The last futsal championship was a good example where Iran lost to Thailand in the semi-finals.

“As our teams are making inroads in the futsal world, the interest of fans is encouraging and the commercial value of these competitions is also showing an upward trend.”