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WORDS FROM THE CHAIRMAN: Futsal faces 'period of uncertainty'

by Andy Donley

In the first of his monthly blog posts, MFC Chairman Simon Wright discusses the challenges that our sport faces in persuading the FA of our worth.

We're entering a period of uncertainty, or down-turn if we're using political language.

In the ten years that I've been involved in English futsal I don't think I've ever had as many question marks over the future direction of the sport as I do now. 

Should the English Futsal Community be worried - for those operating FA National Super League clubs then I believe yes, we should. 

This next period will be the toughest - where we will be challenged on whether the sport can survive at the top level on its own or still need propping up. 

Here is a sport with unquestionable potential, yet it's true standing and value has yet to be fully realised in England.

A futsal culture is emerging and will continue break through from the bottom-up as more and more people of all ages, gender and ability continue to adopt and embrace futsal.  

We should be optimistic. However, right now, we're approaching an interesting crossroads. 

Former FA employees and colleagues of mine have carefully and successfully nurtured the development of futsal, yet it could be argued that we are now reaching a point whereby the organisation's lack of attention will undoubtedly hold it back and damage some of that good work. 

Who has the ability to lead the next stage of the sport's development - a small group of outgoing FA Committee Members? The clubs themselves? 

Who has futsal's best interest at heart here?

Is the England Futsal programme fit for purpose? Have we established our coach education pathway sufficiently? Are we an educated futsal nation or taking short cuts for personal gain?  

These pertinent questions need addressing and now is the time for that debate if futsal is going to re-align, restructure and refocus in order to take positive steps forward into the second generation of its short history in England. 

The emerging landscape is going to be tough.

The FA's much talked about 'cuts' or restructure of staff will hit futsal the hardest. 

As budget items are drilled down into the picking and choosing of programmes to invest in, the next few years becomes the main objective. The likely scenario is that decisions have already been taken on futsal's future by people who know very little about the sport. 

The FA may ask questions such as:

'Why should we continue to fund an FA National Futsal League?' 

'Why should we continue to fund the England Futsal programme?' 

'Do we need dedicated human resource to drive futsal forward or should it just become part of everything we do?' 

The truth is that the blockers that have always existed in 'backing futsal' at the FA still remain. 

Certain senior directors simply don't get futsal or see the vision of what it could develop into and mean for the future of the whole game (football and futsal) in England. 

For me they will always lack belief in the futsal project, I suspect through fear of it's growing popularity over other formats of the national game where their attention lies.  

This has always been the challenge, but are we as clubs now prepared to take the challenge on and pursue the FA on it's actual commitment to futsal?   

At the top level the game needs restructuring and a commercial plan put in place to seek out much needed investment. 

The current FA Super League season lacks connectivity and is failing to showcase our sport in the best possible light. 

Clubs folding, huge gaps in the fixture programmes, big variances in people attending league games along with little to no event management and everyone fighting for scraps of media coverage. 

These are the issues we must address to get our sport on the right track and to give it a chance to spread it's wings.

Is it possible? I would like to think so. But we simply cannot wait for it to happen while the FA makes up its mind. 

 

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