Flying falcon makes an Italian duck!
© AFP

Ducking is something a footballer does once in a while. After all, what else is one supposed to do when a ball is flying towards your face at lightning speed?

But it wasn’t a flying ball Saad Assis had to duck out of the way of during a FIFA Futsal World Cup game against Mexico, but a falcon!

The bird was a regular at the Huamark Indoor Stadium, where action would have to be suspended when it made an appearance. And it seemed to revel in tormenting those trying to catch it!

Indeed, it would often land in the penalty areas, seemingly provoking the goalkeepers into making an attempt to grab it, as supporters cheered vociferously as it eluded frustrated volunteers!

It is not the only Falcon that has been on show at Thailand 2012. For Falcao is not only the Brazil No12, but also the Portuguese word for falcon!

The beautiful game and the hypersonic bird actually have a long association. In May 1911 in Iceland, a group of youths forming a football team named it Valur – the local word for the Gyrfalcon – when they saw one flying overhead.

The Gyrfalcon has since become the national symbol of the Nordic island, while Valur have won 20 Icelandic league titles – a return bettered only by 25-time champions KR – and produced some of the country’s all-time greatest footballers such as Albert Gudmundsson, Gudni Bergsson and Eidur Gudjohnsen.

Several other clubs are nicknamed 'The Falcons', such as Gaziantepspor, Sokol and Spartak Varna from Turkey, Russia and Bulgaria respectively, while the now-defunct Toronto Falcons played in the North American Soccer League in the 1960s.

So, too, are national teams such as Montenengro (The Brave Falcons), Sao Tome and Principe (The Team of Falcons and Parrots), Saudi Arabia (The Green Falcons), Sudan (The Falcons of Jediane), and Nigeria's women’s side (The Super Falcons).