The Danish Football Association hosted a FIFA futsal seminar on 22 September, the purpose of which was to build a strong foundation for the development of futsal in Denmark. The key message was simple: having a structure in place is the key to the successful growth of futsal in Denmark.
Since 2008, futsal has been the official version of indoor football supported by the Danish FA. However, it has been difficult and challenging to establish this technique-based sport given that people’s perception of futsal in some regions in Denmark still differs substantially from their perception of indoor football, which is often played with boards and an unpredictably bouncy ball. Furthermore, indoor football is usually played in the winter when the weather does not allow for outdoor play.
In order to be able to lay a solid foundation for futsal in Denmark, changes need to be made to how people see futsal. This was the basis for the futsal seminar, where approximately 30 people who either play or work with futsal gathered at The House of Football in Brøndby, Denmark to get inspiration on how to successfully develop futsal in Denmark, and in particular listen to FIFA instructor Graeme Dell share his knowledge about promoting futsal in a country with a different culture of indoor football.
“In Denmark, you have been playing futsal for five to seven years without a structure. I think it has come a long way during those years without it. But now it is important to put a structure in place so everyone knows where we are going in the next five to ten years,” said the futsal instructor.
A much-needed change in perception
The common perception in Denmark is that indoor football is a cosy winter football activity played by the “old” and lazy, by those who are not fit enough or who do not have the skill to play on a full-sized pitch. Players, coaches and clubs all need to understand that futsal is not just a form of indoor football, but a game in its own right. Futsal is a specific form of indoor football which serves as a great tool for developing coaches, referees and, last but not least, players.
One way to change how people see futsal is to use facts instead of feelings, a strategy used by Dell when he talked about the benefits of futsal in relation to player development, supporting this with plenty of evidence of how a footballer develops his skills by playing futsal.
He specifically highlighted the size of the futsal pitch and the fact that there were only five players on each team, explaining that playing football in these conditions corresponds to playing 37v37 on a full-sized pitch. Presented in this way, it was immediately obvious that better technical skills are required to get past defenders standing so much closer together.
“It is a journey that many other associations have been on and unless you start now, you will get left further behind. The important thing is to understand where futsal fits in as a part of the overall player development process,” said Dell, who continued by emphasising that it is not only in futsal that Denmark will get left behind, but also in regular football.
In many other countries, players start with futsal before they start playing regular outdoor football and therefore develop a better technical and physical understanding for the game, which can be harder to develop on a full-sized football pitch. This came as a surprise to many of the futsal-related people present.
“Futsal is not just a game in its own right, it is also a development tool which we can benefit from in our skill-building work in regular football – and we have not thought about that before. It is definitely something that we need to take a closer look at,” said Ole Ladefoged, chairman of the DBU Futsal Group.
A rewarding day
In addition to his inspiration and enthusiasm, Dell delivered an engaging presentation that got all attendees actively participating in the seminar and ensured his message got through loud and clear, in spite of the wide range of backgrounds in attendance, which included representatives of football clubs, referees, players and administrators.
“The futsal seminar has given us more tools and documentation to go to the clubs and explain to them why futsal is important, and therefore we can motivate them to introduce and develop futsal,” said Ladefoged. “Now it is about defining goals and projects so we can get started. It will take a lot of work and we need to have faith in the project for it to succeed.”