By Lewis Adams
Braintree against Barcelona in a World Cup final? Don’t laugh – it could happen!
Young players at Braintree Futsal Club have qualified for this year’s World Futsal Cup in December, where Barcelona will be competing amongst other big names.
Also joining them will be Brazilian side Santos, the team where Paris Saint Germain star Neymar learnt his trade and played futsal for the club himself.
The tournament features teams from across the globe, with Australian, European and American entries, as well as the world-famous Barcelona.
Futsal is a fast-paced, small sided football game that originates from South America.
Teams are made up of 5 players and the ball is smaller and heavier, with the focus being on technique and keeping the ball on the floor.
Braintree Futsal Club owner and coach, Jack Harrod, started the club in autumn 2016: “A year ago I was offered by The Chairman of the club to take over the men’s team.
“After playing a full season of Futsal, both myself and Frank (co-owner) decided the youth in this area needed to start playing futsal so that’s what we did.
“We began the youth groups and decided to bring it all under one umbrella as one big, inclusive family, with the aim that the youth players will progress up the ladder towards the first team.
“Frank and I dream that some players can one day play for England, it’s an achievable goal.”
The men’s team, who compete in the National Futsal League and have played in the futsal FA Cup, have played against Chelsea, whilst the youth teams have competed against Tottenham, Arsenal and West Ham.
Two players within the elite youth groups at the club are on trial at professional football clubs, with one having recently been signed to Ipswich Town.
Jack said: “As a coach it’s so rewarding to see. We have players at 6 years old signed to Arsenal’s pre-academy and it just goes to show that futsal is the perfect complement to football.
“But it’s more rewarding as you experience 210% more touches than in football; 8.9 futsal courts fit into one 11-a-side football pitch and the game puts a large emphasis on skill, high pressure and is great for fitness.”
The quality of coaching within the sessions is high. Jack himself is a coach and scout for Ipswich’s youth teams and frequently uses his ties with the football club to recommend young futsal players.
Club secretary, Amy Parker, said: “The club is getting bigger everyday and to see the players and coaches improving all the time creates such a positive environment around the club.”
During half-term clubs, giant interactive television screens are used in a Sky Sports esque manner to analyse performance; the screens
themselves are provided by their sponsors Cablers and Promethean who also supply to Atletico Madrid and Liverpool’s football teams.
Jack said: “We are trying to find our own philosophy, our own identity – we’re not trying to be anyone else.”
The club also offers the opportunity for women to get involved with their ladies’ team and boasts an under-12s girls team too.
Sessions are run every night during the week at Bocking Hockey club and Notley High School.