Ask any England fan question which club side David Beckham plays for and the vast majority will be able to give you an answer. If you asked the same fan where their nearest Futsal venue was, then there would probably be a prolonged period of silence, followed by a shrug of the shoulders. However, all that is about to change if the English FA achieve their goal.
Nearly 160 million football fans in England have passed through the turnstiles since the Premiership began in August 1992. The history and tradition associated with English football arguably has no equal, which is why perhaps new footballing initiatives such as Futsal struggle to take-off as quickly as they do in other countries.
"Futsal up until about two years ago was probably unheard of in England," explains the FA's National Manager of Small-sided Football, Dermot Collins. "That is largely because of the strength of the 11-a-side game and domestic small-sided football, which is the largest form of recreational football in this country. We have over 2.6m adults saying that they play this form of football every year, which is an incredible amount.
"But thanks to the encouragement of FIFA and UEFA, we as a national football association have decided to take a look at Futsal. What's so impressive about it is the technical quality of the game - and we hope that by encouraging younger players to take up Futsal, it will assist in their development as a footballer. We're not saying that if a young boy takes up Futsal he will become the next Wayne Rooney, but there are signs that it can improve your skills as a player."
Some of the world's leading footballers such as FIFA World Player of the Year 2005 Ronaldinho, together with Ronaldo and Luis Figo all played Futsal when they were young - and the prospect of developing similar talents is attractive to England, who are without a win in a major international tournament for almost 40 years.
"England as a nation have looked upon certain countries with a certain amount of envy for the way they play football - and these countries tend to have a strong Futsal programme already in place," continued Mr. Collins. "Also, by playing the game of Futsal, it can lead players to some wonderful places. For example, you can play five-a-side football for 30 years in the same arena, against the same players. However, with Futsal you get the chance to take part in FIFA or UEFA Competitions; at club or international level.
"The major problem that we are facing is that the knowledge of Futsal isn't strong in England. However, we are confident that we can take the game to the nation. Futsal is a very good sport. Once we get a good number of people playing the game and enjoying the game, then I am sure it will spread across the country. However, we are moving in the right direction, even though that we are aware that there is still an awful lot of work still to do."
An Introductory Course in Futsal has been established which covers topics such as the history and laws of the game, as well as basic coaching drill and tactical advice. A total of 16 have been organised throughout the country, with 14 already completed.
"The courses have gone extremely well - we have had a really enthusiastic response and all of them have been over-subscribed," smiled Mr. Collins. "It's only a one day course where participants spend as much time learning about the game as they do on the coaching aspects, but it is the start we need in this country.
"The FA would like to see the game played in schools, colleges and Universities. The real benefits would come from getting young people to play this game. Hopefully, it will assist with their technical development until they reach a stage where they make a decision between 11-a-side football and Futsal. That means that the benefits will be two-fold. We just want to raise standards."