The FIFA Futsal World Cup is more than just an intensely exciting competition. It is also an important vehicle for promoting all the positive things the sport has to offer, a sport with the power to teach and shape players at the same time.
It was with those goals in mind that a Grassroots Futsal Festival "Skills for All" was held at Cali’s Coliseo el Pueblo on Monday 19 September as part of the Colombia 2016 Legacy Programme.
"The goal of "Skills for All" is to reach kids from six to 12 years old with the intention of motivating them to play futsal," said Brent Rahim, FIFA Beach Soccer and Futsal Development Manager. "The idea is to use fun games to improve their technique, a vital thing in developing as a futsal or football player".
"Skills for All" is also connected with social projects, which help the girls and boys in vulnerable situations," continued Rahim, holder of 49 international caps with Trinidad & Tobago. "It offers them the opportunity to participate in a festival that will help in their educational progression."
Taking part in the Cali festival were 41 girls and boys from Club Deportivo Lyon. They enjoyed a fun introduction to futsal on the court that will host the Colombia 2016 final on 1 October.
The event was coordinated by the Argentinian Vicente De Luise, a FIFA instructor and a member of the Technical Study Group analysing each of the games at the tournament. “We carried out what you might call a “mother” course in Bucaramanga, where training was given to coaches from the three cities hosting the World Cup,” he told FIFA.com.
“Those courses were then rolled out at the three host cities, the aim being to introduce futsal to a wider audience,” added De Luise, who coached the Argentina team at the first two futsal world finals, Netherlands 1989 and Hong Kong 1992.
The children taking part in the festival were split into groups and taught the basics of futsal before playing matches among themselves. “Nearly half of them were girls, and they played with the boys because at that age there’s not much difference between them physically.”
Expressing his satisfaction with the event, 12-year-old Sebastian, who was sporting a yellow FIFA shirt and trendy haircut for the occasion, said: “I like futsal because it's quicker and more fun to play. I think the World Cup has been great and my favourite player is Angellott Caro.”
Also there was 11-year-old Laura Soafia, who, with strands of hair loose after a fun time on the court, said: “I like it and I touched the ball a few times. My favourite player at the World Cup is Ricardinho.”
Sebastian and Laura were not the only ones smiling at the end of the festival. “The aim is for them to learn by playing and having fun,” added De Luise. “That’s the best way for them to take concepts on board. The response was great, and they wanted to carry on playing for even longer. That just shows you how much they enjoyed it.”