“I could never imagine that a Women’s Futsal EURO would ever be created, so it is a dream taking part in it.” So says fired-up Spain goalkeeper Silvia Aguete, a part of the staff that received the inaugural match in Portugal three years in the past. “The COVID outbreak prevented us from playing last year, so this year the competition is the key objective for the squad. I am very much looking forward to it.”
That final sentence appears like a slight understatement, provided that this can be a participant who personally skilled the early days of ladies’s futsal. “I remember my first licence: it read ‘amateur player’, despite me training every day for years,” she says. “Now teams are becoming more and more professional – we are on a good track.”
UEFA income assist
That is thanks partially to UEFA utilizing revenues from its elite membership competitions such because the Champions League and Europa League to assist occasions corresponding to this. Meanwhile, UEFA’s HatTrick programme shares income generated from the boys’s EURO among the many 55 nationwide associations, every benefitting to the tune of €195m yearly to develop all features of soccer, together with futsal and girls’s soccer tasks.
The affect of this competitors on ladies’s futsal is evident. Before the Women’s Futsal EURO was launched, there have been solely seven nationwide groups in Europe. In just a few brief years that quantity has near quadrupled, with the purpose of reaching 30 for the fourth version in 2024/25.
The progress of the boys’s sport gives the blueprint. Portugal’s victory within the Futsal EURO in Amsterdam in February was the end result of an occasion in its twelfth version, with greater than 25 years of historical past and entered by 50 of the 55 UEFA member associations. This is simply the second time that the ladies’s model has been held, and already 24 nations have entered. There have been large strides, with a sell-out remaining and greater than one million TV viewers for the 2019 occasion setting the usual.
“This competition can have a big impact on youngsters. It is important for the visibility of the sport.”
Men’s futsal affect
The indisputable fact that Portugal is house to the boys’s European and world champions helps to drag ladies into the game. The Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) introduced in May that the variety of registered feminine futsal gamers has elevated by 30% over the previous two years, whereas the variety of competitions for them to participate in doubled between 2015 and 2020.
Nevertheless, the FPF is set to do extra. “We’re growing, but we can and must increase the number of players, especially at youth level,” stated Pedro Dias, FPF futsal director.
The senior ladies’s staff now play recurrently sufficient that captain Ana Azevedo is closing in on 100 caps; her standing inside the Portugal set-up was proven when males’s captain João Matos talked about her throughout his speech on the reception for the squad getting back from the Netherlands with the Futsal EURO trophy. She flew out on the spur of the second to observe the ultimate in Amsterdam; Matos, in the meantime, is among the many males’s gamers who’ve beforehand attended ladies’s video games.
“At the European Championship, they will be there to support us,” stated Azevedo. “Ricardinho saw our final in Gondomar in 2019 and I think more players were there. We already had a joint arrangement to exchange ideas. The truth is that the women’s futsal team was very happy with the triumph of the men’s team.”
Nations hoping for future success
There are nations with out the identical futsal foundations which might be additionally trying to get entangled. Germany didn’t have a males’s futsal staff till 2016 and are nonetheless solely thirty fifth within the UEFA rankings. However, because the historically dominant European nation in ladies’s soccer, they’re bold to realize comparable standing in feminine futsal.
They haven’t but performed a global however they’ve invested in regional competitions, and the intention is to enter qualifying for the Women’s Futsal EURO in 2025. “I think we’re among the ten best nations in the world, even without a national team,” stated Marianne Finke-Holtz of the German Football Association’s Futsal Committee. “Unlike in men’s [futsal], we don’t have to work our way up from the bottom. The sporting basis is there.”
Aguete, in the meantime, says that this yr’s match will solely assist to recruit extra gamers round Europe. “It can have a big impact for youngsters,” she says. “It is important to have these official competitions for the visibility of the sport.”
This article seems within the 2022 UEFA Women’s Futsal EURO official match programme