We’ve seen goals like never seen before on Indian soil. We’ve seen skills that are staple fare in the favelas and streets of South American countries like Brazil and Argentina. And while we were enjoying these skills on our TV sets, the next generation of Indian futsal talents have been rubbing their shoulders against the legends of the game.
Hardly a bad initiation for them into the world of professional sport, huh?
Because even though today is the final of the Premier Futsal League – the culmination of the last ten days, the end – in many ways it is just the beginning in tapping the vast potential India has in the sport which requires a ball at your feet, an eye for the net between two vertical poles, and passion in your heart.
Among the many aims that the tournament had before it started, one of them was finding a bunch of talented Indian youngsters who could not only play the sport but play it at a high level. It has certainly succeeded in doing so, with the likes of 18-year-old Jonathan Piers of Bengaluru 5’s, Chanpreet Bhui of Mumbai 5’s and Anupam of Kochi 5’s catching the eye whenever they have taken to the pitch.
They say talent is wasted without opportunity. But with the tournament’s rule of having at least one Indian youngster on the pitch at all times during a match, the league has ensured that the best Indian youngsters got their due and ample opportunity to prove their worth on the big stage.
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Added to this was the natural flair and skill of freestylers, professional futsal players and legends of the game. Never before had a generation of Indians believe that they would ever have the opportunity to see Ronaldinho grace the country with his samba style.
Never before had they thought they would get to see Premier League legends like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes play on their home soil just years after their retirement. And never before had this actually happened, until Premier Futsal got them on board.
The way forward
So regardless of the result of tonight’s match between Kochi 5s and Mumbai 5s, it is safe to say the Premier Futsal League has changed the way a lot of people looked at the sport, while also introducing a whole new audience to a newer, faster form of football. It is true that futsal and football complement each other, and there is a space for both of them to co-exist in the ever growing sporting landscape of the country.
It is essential to sustain the momentum built by this 11-day long tournament by continuing to use the indoor facilities in Chennai and Goa for futsal, so by the time the next edition of the tournament comes along, more Indian youngsters have got a feel for the sport. Additionally, newer facilities must open in various other cities of the country to spread the sport pan – India.
The organisers of the league would do well to not go down the route of the Commonwealth Games organising committee, which promised maintenance and use of all facilities used during the games but never ended up doing so. Primarily being an indoor sport, the infrastructure is essential to top level futsal.
Futsal can also be a good aid in solving India’s footballing conundrum. The criticism that top level Indian players often face is that they are not technically good enough in close spaces, and their decision making in crucial areas of the pitch leaves a lot to be desired. Futsal can help a great deal with that. If children start off playing futsal when young and then graduate to football when older, the natural flair and confidence on the ball that futsal renders to players is hard to recreate from scratch on the football pitch.
And finally, support and encouragement from the sports loving public of the country is worth its weight in gold when talking about the growth of any sport in the country. Because it is only through the interest, coupled with patience that the stars of tomorrow can truly set out to achieve what the whole country would be proud to see one day – India being considered among the best in the world at futsal and football.