Futsal-ebrations

Richard Moore left and Johnathan Steel,
Richard Moore left and Johnathan Steel,
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IT sounds like the rules are taken from a playground kick around: flying goalkeepers, no throw-ins and with score lines which are more like cricket scores.

But this is a sport - football, Trevor, but not as you know it - which is one of the fastest growing games in the world. And one which is perhaps growing nowhere faster than here in Sheffield.

Opening Match in the new Futsal League Season....Sheffield Fc v Liverpool at Concord Sports Centre......Action

Opening Match in the new Futsal League Season....Sheffield Fc v Liverpool at Concord Sports Centre......Action

Futsal: “It’s sort of like five-a-side,” says Richard Moore. “But different.”

For six years, this game - a professional sport in South America and parts of Europe - has been increasingly popular here with school sessions and community coaching attracting more players.

Now the city’s only official team Sheffield FC Futsal Club has announced £30,000 plans to establish the north’s first dedicated futsal arena, as well as starting a dedicated South Yorkshire league.

The arena would be built at The Blue Shed - an arts venue in Brightside Lane, Attercliffe - and would feature a UEFA-approved pitch and 300-capacity seating. Both would be removable to allow the space to transform back to an arts area on any given day.

“We can no longer do without a proper facility,” says club manager Richard. “We’ve had a nomadic existence playing at the English Institute of Sport and the Concord Sports Centre but having our own space would finally allow us to develop as a team and create a mini South Yorkshire league.”

Some background then?

Futsal is played with a small, heavy ball to emphasise skill rather than brawn - “It’s popular with players who don’t want to get kicked by strangers,” notes Richard, a 30-year-old sports researcher of Wadsley.

Because of this, it has been played for years in South America - Lionel Messi practised when he was younger - but only arrived here in 2006 when a pilot league resulted in the creation of Sheffield FC Futsal Club.

They have since gone on to establish themselves as one of the top teams in the UK, dominating a northern division featuring teams from Manchester, Middlesbrough and Liverpool. Two players - Curtis Holmes who comes from Nottingham and Ollie O’Neal, a Nether Edge doctor - are England regulars.

That success, in turn, has led club bosses to conclude they need their own venue and a city league to help nurture talent.

“So, we worked with The Blue Shed and applied to Sports England for the grant,” explains Richard. “We find out within the next 12 weeks and, because it’s a quick development process, if we are successful, the arena could be opened for September. We’d hope to have a league up and running shortly after.”

“Having an affordable and accessible sports facility in this part of the city is really important,” adds Deborah Egan, project director at The Blue Shed. “It would put a real focus on wellbeing.”

In the meantime an exhibition game against Manchester will be held at the venue - trailing that removable surface - on April 29. To find out more email richard.moore@sheffieldfc.com