New Zealand Football’s futsal community has received a most welcome gift from the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
The LOC has purchased New Zealand’s first international-standard, portable futsal pitch that can be set up in communities all over the country – either as one full size international court or two standard size courts.
Futsal is the FIFA and NZF approved version of five-a-side football and the world’s fastest growing indoor sport with a FIFA Futsal World Cup held every four years of which Brazil are the current holders after defeating Spain during the Thailand 2012 edition.
World famous Football players such as Pele, Neymar, Ronaldo, Messi and Iniesta all grew up playing futsal and attribute much of their success to the hours spent on the futsal court during their youth.
“By purchasing this court, (NZD $56,000) we are able to tie it into our football activities across the country in the countdown to the FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015, as well as leave a positive legacy for New Zealand’s active futsal community,” said Dave Beeche, Local Organising Committee CEO FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015.
New Zealand Football’s Futsal Development Manager Dave Payne said the generous gift is a real bonus for the growth of the game.
“The new portable futsal court will provide New Zealand Football with the opportunity of showcasing our key growth strategy of futsal. In the four short years that New Zealand Football has been administering futsal we have seen our leagues and programmes rise from just around 1000 participants to over 43,000. Being able to now bring futsal to the community we are able to engage a wider audience as to what futsal can offer.”
New Zealand 2015 legacy
One of the Legacy goals for FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015 is growing participation in football, and futsal is spearheading that drive for more participants, especially in the teenage age group. The Local Organising Committee has been pleased to receive financial support from Sport New Zealand and the Football Foundation – who are assisting particularly with the acceleration of New Zealand Football’s College Futsal programme. The futsal court is a tangible sign of this combined focus on growing football’s participation and relationship with secondary schools.
The new futsal court was in action for the first time last weekend in Napier as part of a Futsal Festival held at Napier Boys High School featuring teams from local schools and clubs and Payne said seeing the court in action was fantastic.
“This is the best type of portable Futsal court you can get. The bright blue court symbolises international futsal courts worldwide and is to the standard approved by FIFA. Most Kiwi futsal fans would only see a court like this in use overseas, so it was pretty special to see young football fans out on court, putting it through its paces in Napier.”
From there, the portable pitch was packed up and headed to Wellington for a four day Futsal Festival beginning tomorrow which leads up to the FIFA U-20 World Cup tournament’s ‘One Year to Go’ celebration held in the capital on Friday 30 May.
The portable pitch will then once again be packed up and travel to various host regions across the country over the next few weeks.