Yes, we all know that the World Cup is this summer, but did you know that the 2018 UEFA Futsal European Championships are happening right now? The Championships are a 12 country tournament featuring the best futsal players in Europe competing to be the best.
This year the tournament is hosted by Slovenia, which is where our very own Coach Niki is from. Additionally, Coach Mark is a current Professional Futsal Player for Sporting Maryland Fustal Club. Both coaches took some time out of their busy schedules this week to talk about their love of futsal and how far the game has taken them.
Coach Niki and Futsal in Slovenia
Coach Niki on being born in Slovenia and how it has shaped who he is today:
"I always considered myself extremely lucky to be born in Slovenia and to have had the opportunity to travel back there a majority of my summers growing up. Around the age of 5 I started to fall in love with soccer and would use my summers as an opportunity to learn and play with all the kids in my dad's small home village of Vransko. Every year I would bring my cleats with me thinking we would be playing on the beautiful grass field right in the middle of town, but instead they would stay packed in my suitcase for the full month. Day after day I would ride my bike into town to find the grass field completely empty and the futsal court packed with about 10 kids waiting to play. Every Friday night they would host the Vransko men's league and there would be about 100 people watching under the lights.
A few of my dad's friends coached quite a bit, so I would ask them what is so great about futsal? They would simply say "this is where you come to build your skills." As I watched more and began to play it made complete sense.
Futsal helped me to improve my first touch, think faster, and learn how to be creative with the ball at my feet. When I would head back to the US and rejoin my team on the grass field the game seemed so much slower and easier. I was able to anticipate the ball coming to my feet and make quality decisions ahead of time. I truly believe without those futsal experiences I would have never developed those parts of my game that allowed me to be successful.
Now that Slovenia is hosting the Futsal Euro's I can only imagine how excited and proud that small country of 2 million is feeling. If the small futsal league in my dad's small town could create so much excitement I can only imagine how crazy people are going to be while watching Slovenia compete against Europe's best."
Coach Mark and the National League of Professional Futsal
Coach Mark currently plays for Sporting Maryland Futsal Club who were the 2017 National League of Professional Futsal (NLPF) Finalists!
Coach Mark explains the difference between playing on a grass field compared to a futsal court, and how the best players in the world have benefited from their futsal training:
“Futsal in comparison to outdoor soccer requires faster speed of play, faster decision-making and advanced ball control and movement to be successful. Often times, you see the top outdoor soccer players in the world (ie. Neymar, Messi & Ronaldinho, among others) credit their top-level technical ability to their experiences training on the Futsal court during their youth development. “
We are very lucky to have both of these coaches as part of our PPA community. Keep up the good work on the futsal court and see how it helps your game when you step back onto the pitch this spring.
You can live stream and watch highlights of The 2018 UEFA Futsal European Championships by clicking here: Euro Futsal 2018