Hi there, I’m Luke Meyrick – a local futsal player and organiser of Futsal Fridays; a series of summer sessions run in partnership with VYD and Montpelier Villa FC.

In addition to VYD’s other programs, these sessions give refugees and asylum seekers an opportunity to play futsal, whilst also providing an opportunity to connect with the wider community in a way that overcomes language, socioeconomic, and physical barriers.

What’s futsal? Futsal is a form of small-sided 5v5 football, originating in South America and loved the world over. It’s played on a hard surface with a slightly heavier & smaller (size 4) ball – don’t worry, you won’t be seeing one of these fluorescent giant tennis balls bouncing off the walls.

Not only that, but futsal also has a unique set of rules. The main ones are:

  • Duration: The game consists of two halves, each lasting 20 minutes.
  • Rolling substitutions: substitutions can be made at any time during the game.
  • Kick-ins: Instead of throw-ins, the ball is kicked in from the sidelines.
  • No offside: there’s no offside rule, promoting a faster and more fluid style of play.

All of these make it a fast-paced, action-packed game that requires quick decision-making and favours players with great ball control and creative thinking. The change of pace can be a bit of a shock to those used to playing other forms of football but it doesn’t take long to fall in love with the game!

The skills you develop playing futsal are highly transferable to larger-sided games. Don’t just take my word for it; football greats like Ronaldinho, Messi, Ronaldo and Iniesta all honed their skills on the futsal court.

“A lot of the moves I make originate from futsal. It’s played in a very small space, and the ball control is different in futsal. And to this day, my ball control is pretty similar to a futsal player’s control.” – Ronaldinho

“As a little boy in Argentina, I played futsal on the streets and for my club. It was tremendous fun, and it really helped me become who I am today.” – Messi

“The small playing area helped me improve my close control, and whenever I played futsal, I felt free. If it wasn’t for futsal, I wouldn’t be the player I am today.” – Ronaldo

[Football and futsal] have a lot in common…There are different tactics and moves, but there have the same essence of mastering the ball, combining and making quick decisions.” – Iniesta

It’s no surprise then that Brazil, Portugal, Spain, and Argentina are the best futsal nations in the world – similar to football.

However, the rest of the top 10 might surprise you. Iran, for example, ranks 6th + 9th, men & women respectively.

England on the other hand hasn’t had national mainstream teams for the last few years. You can learn more about the country’s turbulent relationships with futsal here: http://www.dougreedfutsal.com/2020/09/futsal-in-england.html

In contrast, England has some of the best non-mainstream talent in the world, with the Women’s National Deaf team defeating Spain to win last year’s Euros and the Men’s Partially Sighted team currently ranking #2. We’ve even been lucky enough to have a few internationals come along to the sessions!

There’s plenty of room to develop the sport and undoubtedly a lot of great talent on and off the pitch. In fact, the reason I contacted MPV in the first place was that I saw they already had a strong futsal culture running through the club; coached by Chris Day, their u16s have already made a great impression at a local and national level.

Not only that, Chris works tirelessly to develop the sport and was recently selected as Head Coach of England’s Women’s Deaf Team. It’s clear to see why; their passionate and compassionate approach to coaching puts the individual at the core of their own development. You can learn more about their coaching methods and get an insight into the various para pathways on England Football’s Coachcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/s3-ep21-chris-day-making-football-inclusive/id1591804808?i=1000620867148

Their support has been instrumental in getting these sessions up and running and it’s been great having them support the programme. Speaking about the sessions, Chris writes:

Running adult futsal sessions is something as a club we have been keen to do for a while – it’s a fantastic sport in its own right, but also great for footballers to develop their skills.

Next year’s Montpelier Villa u18s have some of the best futsal players in the country, with the squad making it to the last 4 in the country in the National Futsal finals, and it’s great to be able to provide a continuing pathway for them.

We are very much hoping these sessions will lead to the formation of an adult futsal team in the future.

The consistent small-sided environment is great for players who may find outdoor football doesn’t suit them, and we had one deaf and two partially sighted players at the first session, including one Senior England international, which also shows the value of the sports-inclusive nature.”

It’s also worth mentioning that VYD isn’t the only not-for-profit using futsal for social good; Bloomsbury, the country’s #1 team, is also a force good that provides support to those that otherwise might not be able to overcome the financial barriers of football. A strategy that’s worked pretty well for them considering they’re about to compete in the Champions League alongside the best teams from around the world!

Futsal has the potential to be a real force for good and, although we’re only at the beginning of the journey, with the right resources, we can develop it into a sport that brings communities together, nurtures talent, and puts Sussex futsal on the map. The futsal revolution is just kicking off!

Sound like something you or someone else you know might be interested in? Sessions are every Friday night, 18:00-19:30, at BHASVIC Sports Hall up until the end of September, with plans to develop them further, and are open to anyone aged 16+. Join us on Spond and get involved: group.spond.com/PNXGK