Scotland are getting ready for their national-team bow in next month's UEFA Futsal EURO 2016 preliminary round draw – and their club representatives are aiming for a first of their own with a little help from an Englishman with a dash of Spanish nous.
Damon Shaw founded English top-flight club Middlesbrough Futsal Club and helped establish the British University and English Under-18 futsal championships. Last year, he moved to Barcelona to train further in futsal coaching, and from Wednesday – for the second season running – he will be assisting Scotland's UEFA Futsal Cup entrants Perth Saltires as they face Polish hosts Rekord Bielsko-Biała, FS Ilves Tampere and FK Lokomotyvas Radviliškis in preliminary round Group C. Shaw explains his journey from Middlesbrough via Perth and Barcelona to Bielsko-Biala.
This will be the second season I have started with Perth Saltires in the UEFA Futsal Cup. My former club Middlesbrough is close to Scotland so we've had a good friendship for years and when they asked me to be part of the coaching staff last year I couldn't say no – it's a competition everybody wants to be part of.
This year, I'll go with a lot more experience having spent a season in Spain taking the UEFA B (futsal licence) and studying the sport and the culture. I have spent some time with Marfil Santa Coloma, F6 Vilassar de Mar – a club owned by Fernandão – and spoken to and observed some top coaches including Marc Carmona. Catalonia is one of the top places for futsal in the world so, to further my knowledge, I took it upon myself to make the move and I'll be with Hospitalet Bellsport this coming season – the third club in Catalonia.
Hopefully I can add a little more to Perth's campaign this time and help get the country's first win. I am taking with me Daniel Cappellaro (who will later sign for Middlesbrough). He spent three months in Spain with me last season and has a street football background, featuring in FIFA Street. On top of that, I hope I can add some tactical advice to the team. Although I haven't been with them during their preparation, once we're together I'll take training sessions and focus the work we do on getting a result.
All that is needed for Scotland to grow now is a good national league and club structure, and Scotland can use the small size of the country to its advantage, I think. They'll have greater access to players and coaches being so close together and, if done well and planned properly, I think they could catch up to the other home nations rapidly. I'd love to see the rivalry between England and Scotland translate to the futsal pitch eventually, but of course they are two important nations in football, so it would be great to see them both reaching the higher levels in Europe.
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