A budding game, a case for Futsal

Growing up, definitely with a passion to play often found us inventing all sorts of games. Most of them, in the very least to be fun, less competitive and requiring less of our aerobic capabilities. Here and there, the restrictions and curfews found me and you either kicking some balls with younger siblings and/or neighbors within the precincts of our very own backyards or watching screen.

Little did we comprehend about the concept of small sided games. We often casted out of our small numbers, on either sides of the courtyard and momentarily became “fre-nemies” in the bid to see who’s side will take the evening- hope you remember how many losses your side suffered and the irresistible failures to sleep over conceding too many goals in uprights as wide as three feet square.

As millennials, we didn’t know we had been reciprocating the very model of a game that had existed as early as 1930, but just in a household setting. And now it’s a game that has bred adorable football stars and is, both consciously and subconsciously played at all levels across the world. No wonder it’s now a gigantic strand in youth football development in nations such as Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Russia and Iran, where it is the dominant game in schools and a professional sport in its own.

Looking back now at this meteoric rise and the resurgence of too many passionate potential players elsewhere, Futsal was onto something. The unplanned for production of players at household level and the inability to meet their career expectations has been at the heart of this revolutionary game for centuries. It is as true then as it is now.

Not surprising, several executives at the Football Association of England along side “The Three Lions “ Head coach Gary Southgate were willing to take a 30% pay cut to support investment in Futsal.

Futsal Association Uganda Chairman Hamzah Jjunju

Indisputably, FAU, as the game’s governing body in Uganda, (just like what the North African countries are doing), has an onus to organize, package, brand, market and promote the game within the public domain because at the end of it all every sport is built on business acumenship, but part of that work will, in the long run, be cut out on the basis of the inexorable nature of the game it’s self.

We are a continent that is horrible at macro-management, that’s why mainstream football continues to struggle, but Futsal is just it’s opposite. For whatever limitations we may have in terms of small resource envelopes, low human resource quality, a blinkered society, and lack of inquisitiveness and a seemingly big opportunity cost for fans to attend games, Futsal is perfectly tailored to grow and thrive in such environments.

Those novice about the game will have to clutch at convenient straws, rendering the game trivial and unpopular. But this is a self- serving strawman argument. Those interested in using facts to seek the truth might want to follow the empirical argument around the production of elite football players who are taught via this small sided game. Of course you can’t say that every player is talented-talent by it’s own nature is unique and jealousy.

It is a long and complex argument, but let’s try to condense it here- ask your mother, father or guardian how many times you requested for a break while kicking the ball in the backyard and then briefly retuned to kick the same ball, how many of you were actually playing against each other, the size of the ball you used or for how many minutes you used to play and how big were the spaces you used to play in.

Before you start getting a feeling that I am sounding partial in my write up, tap your neighbor and ask them if they recall what kind of football they used to play at elementary level or for that matter can afford to play much easier today. Before I apply some shocks, brakes and more, let me equivocally state, Futsal is organically embedded in the DNA of our football, it’s the life blood, and for as long as we don’t contextually acknowledge it, football will stay in-situ.

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