Youngsters can try futsal with Futsal For Fun sessions at Birchwood High School in Bishop's Stortford
A passionate futsal coach wants to increase awareness and help more youngsters in Bishop's Stortford fall in love with the game.
Matt Geddes runs Futsal For Fun at Birchwood High School's sports hall between 6pm and 8pm on Monday evenings for boys and girls in under-13 to under-15 age groups.
Futsal is an exciting, fast-paced five-a-side football game that is played indoors with 20-minute halves. The balls are three times heavier than normal footballs and the goals are similar to hockey goals.
Qualified football and futsal coach Geddes, who is also assistant coach at Bishop's Stortford Community Football Club under-15 Rangers, was introduced to the sport seven years ago when his son George started playing for Ole Futsal in Woodford, who were world champions across several age groups.
"The improvement I saw in his overall technical game was so staggering I was sold straight away," said Geddes. "It was seeing this level that inspired me to replicate this elsewhere.
"So when we moved here five years ago and we couldn't find any futsal clubs in the area, I decided this was the prime opportunity to start coaching futsal."
Futsal is not only a sport in its own right but there are numerous benefits and skills that can be transferred to the football pitch.
It improves passing and shooting, there are more goal-scoring opportunities and players have 600% more possession compared to a game on a full-size football pitch.
The game also forces quicker decision making, the smaller and heavier ball helps to develop closer ball control and having more possession increases confidence.
"My ethos is to coach and improve every player in an enjoyable environment," said Geddes.
"It's important to increase their confidence by emphasising their positives which will lead to improved performances quicker, rather than just shouting and pointing out where they are going wrong."
Geddes started FFF with just under-11s – his son's age group at the time – and split them into development and advanced sessions before taking on former BSCFC U15 Rangers head coach Warren Hawkes as his assistant. Both Geddes' son George and Hawkes' son Austin play for FFF and Rangers.
The ages of the players now range from 13 to 16, with the club regularly playing matches and in tournaments with a view to joining a league next season.
But there are not enough younger players coming through, so the coach is keen to raise awareness of futsal in order to create new sessions for under-11s and under-12s while also expanding the current squads. He particularly wants to see more girls taking up the sport.
"I truly believe that it is a lack of understanding about the game, poor coverage by TV and very few schools playing it in their syllabus," said Geddes. "This all leads to low take up.
"Education and awareness need to improve and this will ultimately increase demand.
"I think the situation futsal finds itself in now is very similar to the girls' and women's game 10 years ago. Any girls that wanted to play football were either part of a boys' team or just didn't play in matches.
"Now there are thousands of girls up and down the country playing in all-girl teams at grassroots level every week and look at what a success the Women's Super League has become.
"This has been achieved through the FA and the Government pushing it in schools and the wider community which has increased awareness."
Any boys and girls aged between 11 and 16 who are interested in giving futsal a try should call Geddes on 07899 905117 or email email@example.com.