Manchester Futsal Club goalkeeper Ana Marques has been a key player for the women's team since joining two seasons ago.
Her Player of the Match performance last Saturday in our 5-1 victory over Liverbirds was paramount to our defensive success in what could have potentially finished up a closer score line.
Leanne Skarratt sat down with her to get her views ahead of this Saturday's Super League clash with Preston.
LS: Ana, you were awarded Player of the Match against Liverbirds. How do you feel the game went from both a personal and team perspective?
AM: I think it was a difficult game. I had a lot of saves to make, particularly in the first half. But on a personal level it was just great for me to feel I was helping the team. Our defending was a little disorganised in the beginning, but as the game progressed we settled down a lot more and ended the game very well.
LS: Do you feel the win has boosted the confidence of the squad, particularly the new players, as we head into our next games?
AM: Definitely, yes. To start the new season with a win was very important, especially for the new players. That will help their confidence a lot.
LS: Preston are a newly formed club. Therefore, we don't know anything about our opposition. How do you prepare for a game like that?
AM: We started the season pretty well, so I think we just have to play with confidence. We are also unknown to them too, so I think we just have to stick to what worked last game initially until we get a feel for the game and how they play.
LS: How do you feel about the strength of the squad this year given our new additions? We finished last season with a bare minimum of players. Has it been encouraging for you to see a few new faces joining the club pre-season?
AM: Yes, training has been great because we've had high numbers and intensity. To have a big squad is important over the course of a long season. And also competition for places will also benefit the team, as everyone will need to perform at 100% to keep their place. So new signings of quality are always needed.
LS: You've played at the highest level of Women's Futsal in Portugal. Tell us a little bit about that, and how you feel women's Futsal in England has progressed in just two years with the formation of a National League. Has it been encouraging to see the formation of new clubs each season?
AM: I learned a lot from playing in the Portuguese league. From having had that experience, I would love to see the game grow to that level here. When I first moved to England, I didn't even have a team to play in. So now to see a national league with new teams each season is very exciting.
LS: We are a long way off catching up with nations such as Portugal in English women's Futsal. However, do you think it's now time for an England Women's National Futsal Team? Do you think the opportunity to represent your country provides an extra incentive for young girls to choose the Futsal path?
AM: Yes, when you know you have a national team to play for, you always want to improve because to play for your country is the best feeling. I think it will be great for the progression of the game to see an England national team. I think you will see a lot more girls being drawn to the game at a younger age with a big goal to aim for.
Manchester Women’s Futsal Club host Preston Futsal Club on Saturday 22 October. KO is 11:25 and entry is FREE! Come and support Women’s Futsal!