In our regular, two-monthly review of the Futsal world, takes a look at the latest training courses, development initiatives and competitions from around the globe, with just one year to go before the 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup kicks off in Thailand.

FIFA launched a new training programme for Futsal instructors this year, and Costa Rica was the place to be between 3 and 9 October as FIFA held a course with a view to evaluating the programme, judging its impact and analysing feedback from participants. The course was run by Javier Lozano of Spain and Argentina’s Vicente De Luise, with representatives from ten different member associations - Costa Rica, Curacao, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Puerto Rico - attending.

The principal goal of the course was to develop national instructors in those countries in order to create a technical network for Futsal in Central America. The next step will be to encourage the participating associations to develop their own training initiatives, which is something FIFA is very keen on as the region boasts serious growth potential in the Futsal realm.

A similar course is scheduled to be held in the United Arab Emirates for the 11 nations in the Gulf region this month.

FIFA’s Futsal attentions were not solely focused on Costa Rica in the last two months; on the contrary, development efforts continued all around the world. Overall, no fewer than eight courses – either for coaches, referees or both – were organised in September and October: in Costa Rica, Malta, Cameroon, Austria, Armenia, Paraguay, Egypt and Lithuania. Major strides were made in Austria as the Austrian Football Association will now be overseeing the discipline within its borders.

Futsal soccer across the globe
Futsal made plenty of headlines in September and October and not least in South America, where a whole string of tournaments took place. First up was the Futsal Copa America in September, which was won by hot favourites Brazil, who saw off hosts Argentina 5-1 in the final.

A week later, it was the turn of South America’s clubs to lock horns in the Sudamericano de Clubes de Futsal. Once again, Brazilian talent shone through as Carlos Barbosa defeated Venezuelan outfit La Riviera Vargas in the decider. Then, in October, female players took centre stage in the women’s equivalent of the Copa America, the Sudamericano de Futbol Sala Femenino. Hosted by Venezuela, it ended with another Brazilian victory as Argentina succumbed 8-1 in the final.

Brazil promptly made it a clean sweep on home soil by triumphing in the 2011 Futsal Grand Prix in Manaus. One of 16 sides from five different confederations in a competitive field, the hosts saw off Russia in the final to emerge victorious, while Argentina took third place ahead of Iran.

In Europe, meanwhile, the main round of the UEFA Futsal Cup took place, from which 12 teams qualified for the elite round. There, they will be joined by the four sides given a bye, including reigning champions Montesilvano.

Lastly, the first qualifying round for the FIFA Futsal World Cup was contested in Europe. Georgia, Bulgaria, Latvia, Turkey, Macedonia, France and Norway made the cut from an initial line-up of 20 nations, with the group winners progressing to the second round along with the two best runners-up.

What they said
"I’d have to say that the limited size of the court in Futsal forces players to be more agile and quicker, and to control the ball better, all of which makes the game more spectacular. Futsal’s characteristics mean it isn’t affected by climate and so everyone can take part. Futsal is a sport that’s undergoing development in Costa Rica. Having instructors here who know the rules of the game and are patched into an international network will help stimulate mass participation in Costa Rica,” Bernardo Jaen, Secretary General of the Costa Rican Football Association.

"Futsal is the third most popular sport among adults in our country and the second most played sport in schools. What’s more, every education establishment has a multipurpose gym, which makes it possible to play Futsal, and the education authorities have shown interest in the discipline. Having taken part in this course for instructors, I feel motivated to make Futsal the most popular sport among Dominicans, and I think we can make this country a Futsal stronghold in the Caribbean,” Prandy Pinales, third vice-president of the Dominican Football Association.

Coming up
November and December will be similarly busy for FIFA’s instructors as no fewer than 12 events have been lined up between now and the end of the year across five different confederations. Three of those will take place in Oceania, with courses planned in American Samoa and the Solomon Islands.

The undoubted highlight will nonetheless be the course held in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, which will be run by Belgium’s Benny Meurs and Graeme Dell of England.