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FEATURE: Fantasy Futsal - meet Doncaster Rovers’ newest team

Doncaster Rovers Futsal team are back l-r Rory Davies, Thomas Hogg, Ryan Savage, Kip Harris, all 17, Lewis Richardson, Jack Finnert, both 16, and Matthew Orange, 17. Front l-r are Kieran O'Malley, Ashley Peacock, both 17, Callum Grice, Jack Cross, both 16, Luke Reynolds, 17, Mac Varley, Matthew Tunnard, both 16, and Jordan Hill, 17.  Picture: Liz Mockler D2541LM

Doncaster Rovers Futsal team are back l-r Rory Davies, Thomas Hogg, Ryan Savage, Kip Harris, all 17, Lewis Richardson, Jack Finnert, both 16, and Matthew Orange, 17. Front l-r are Kieran O'Malley, Ashley Peacock, both 17, Callum Grice, Jack Cross, both 16, Luke Reynolds, 17, Mac Varley, Matthew Tunnard, both 16, and Jordan Hill, 17. Picture: Liz Mockler D2541LM

  • by Paul Goodwin
 

LET’S face it, YouTube is mostly for people either bored at work or wanting to share completely useless videos.

That is until you do a search for ‘Falcao’ and ‘futsal’.

Prepare to be jaw-droppingly amazed.

The young lads who make up Doncaster Rovers’ newest team did exactly that when they embarked upon the club’s new ‘learn as you play’ futsal and education scholarship last month.

And as they bid to put Rovers on the futsal map - by competing against the likes of Leeds United and Sheffield United in the new Football League Trust Futsal League - they could not wish to see anything more inspiritional if they tried.

“The guys have watched a lot of YouTube clips of the likes of Falcao,” said Sam Parkin, the man in charge of Doncaster’s futsal revolution.

“Some of the things they can do with a futsal are just unreal.

“This is the game that kids in Spain, Germany and Brazil play until they’re 14.

“It’s the game that the likes of Luis Figo, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho grew up playing.

“We’re probably five or ten years behind the Spanish but we’re hoping it’s going to take off in this country.

“The Football Association are giving futsal a massive push and we want to do our bit by introducing the sport in schools across Doncaster,” he added.

“There’s a lot going on at Rovers at the moment in terms of getting kids involved.

“And we want the lads on this course to eventually go out and coach younger kids in Doncaster and encourage them to take up futsal.”

With his flicks, tricks and damn right mind-blowing skills, Brazilian Falcao embodies everything that futsal stands for - to develop technically brilliant players who learn to love the ball.

There is little wonder he has been dubbed the ‘King of futsal’. Just do the search and see.

The five-a-side game, played indoor with a smaller, heavier ball, places an emphasis on improvisation, creativity, passing and technique.

And as I discovered to my horror during a very brief run out with the Rovers squad at Doncaster College for the Deaf, fitness is just as important!

“Futsal is technically more challenging. There’s no hiding place,” said project co-ordinator Sam, who has worked for Rovers for nine years.

“It’s a very fast paced game, end-to-end, and you’re talking 20 to 30 goals per game.

“The lads are taking everything on board at the moment.

“It’s a massive learning curve for them because you’re trying to eradicate bad habits which you pick up in eleven-a-side.

“Futsal is all about encouraging them to be confident in possession of a football.

“One or two of the lads still like whacking it but they’re all getting their heads down and working hard.”

That hard work ethic is paying dividends.

In their most recent fixture at Leeds’ Futsal Arena, Rovers beat the Blades 6-1 with four goals from Mac Varley and a Billy Kirkham brace.

But for the 17 members - or learners - proudly wearing the red and white hoops, there’s a lot more to the next two years than playing futsal.

At the end of their two-year course they will be armed with a Level 3 BTEC, the equivalent of three A-levels.

Career options then include a job in the leisure industry, a scholarship abroad or even a future as a professional futsal player - with the formation of a professional league in England on the horizon.

“It’s perfect for those kids who don’t want to stay at school and who fancy trying something different,” said Sam.

“If they’ve got five C grades at GCSE this could be for them. Ability is secondary - if they can play it’s a bonus.

“Futsal is something completely new in Doncaster and it’s an exciting project to be part of.”

H GET INVOLVED: For more information about Doncaster Rovers’ Futsal and Education scholarship, contact the club’s community department on 01302 764663.

 

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