July 2014 marks the launch date of the new UEFA 'B' level coaching licence specifically designed to offer an internationally-recognised qualification to technicians working in the five-a-side game. The futsal licence has been presented to all member associations at a series of pilot courses – and the sequence was completed when coaches and coach educators met in Prague last week.
The four-day event was attended by futsal specialists from 21 of Europe’s top nations in the futsal field, among them the coaches who, three months earlier, had led their national teams at UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 in Antwerp.
As UEFA's chief technical officer, Ioan Lupescu, explained on the opening day: "he aim of this course is to outline the key elements in this new 'B' licence course and to make it clear that UEFA is willing to offer tailor-made support to member associations who feel they would benefit from outside expertise in building up their futsal structures."
For the record, most of UEFA's member associations have announced their intention to implant the new UEFA futsal coaching courses on an immediate basis, with the rest intending to do likewise in a very near future.
"This is a big step forward," said UEFA Futsal and Beach Soccer Committee second vice-chairman Petr Fousek, who was leading the team from the Football Association of the Czech Republic (FAČR) which performed magnificently in hosting the event. "We have worked towards this for a long time, and it really opens up new spaces for the sport."
The programme for the pilot course was based on specialised topics of great interest to the coach educators who will be helping to bring the UEFA Futsal licence to life. But there was a session on the second morning that futsal fans and the media would have relished: a round-table discussion on UEFA EURO 2014 involving the coaches of the top four teams at the final tournament in Antwerp – Jorge Braz of Portugal; José Venancio López, bronze-medallist with Spain; Sergei Skorovich, runner-up with Russia; and the current European champion Roberto Menichelli, victorious with an Italian team that took the title despite losing its first game. The four coaches were interviewed by Javier Lozano, the two-time FIFA Futsal World Cup winner and three-time European champion who had been in Antwerp as UEFA’'s technical observer.
The course was otherwise divided equally between theoretical presentations and practical sessions involving players from the Czech Republic’s youth teams. The content had great specific density, based on angles such as the transfer of futsal knowledge to players; playing systems and tactical options; fast transitions; the art of playing with (or against) the flying goalkeeper; the fitness concepts applicable to the indoor game; methods of designing and managing futsal training sessions; the development and application of individual skills; and the principles of futsal goalkeeping, which evidently differ radically from the parameters of the outdoor game.
The off-the-pitch sessions featured inspirational contributions by Lozano and Venancio on the sort of teaching methodology that the futsal coach educator will need to dominate; or the tactical, man-management and leadership skills which would-be coaches will want to have in their toolboxes as they embark on a coaching career in the five-a-side game.
"This event demonstrated that UEFA is leading by example," commented Lozano on the closing day. "It was a wonderful opportunity to share knowledge. The UEFA futsal licence is a positive move and a democratic one, in the sense that it will open up the game and make it truly universal, with UEFA willing to help all national associations to continue to climb up towards the standards of the top countries."
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