Preparations are continuing apace for the first UEFA Conference for Futsal with nearly all of Europe's associations taking part.
The event in Coverciano, Italy, on 26-28 November will concentrate on the continued success of the UEFA Futsal Cup and UEFA European Championship and look ahead to the final stages of each competition early next year. It will also focus on the laws of the game, the establishing of an international Futsal calendar and the future of the sport.
'The next step'
Petr Fousek, the chairman of UEFA's Futsal Committee, said: "The conference is the next step for Futsal in Europe. I am sure this event will open new doors for the development of Futsal and increase the chances of further development. For the first time, it will bring together all Futsal representatives from the continent to exchange ideas and experiences."
Mr Fousek added that one of the most important aims of the conference was to demonstrate that Futsal is the "most attractive indoor version of football". He added that it had benefits for youth training, with players able to concentrate on ball skills and technique.
'Ball rolling on'
Only three of UEFA's 52 associations have yet to confirm their interest in attending the conference, emphasising the continent-wide commitment to promoting the sport. "This is really a big step," said Mr Fousek. Although he admitted that it would still take time to develop a regular domestic league and national team in non-Futsal playing countries, the important thing was that "the ball is rolling on".
With the likes of France, Germany and England now showing great interest in a sport traditionally dominated by southern and eastern Europe, the signs are good. Indeed, one country that has particularly stepped up its Futsal focus in recent months is Scotland.
Despite the fact Scottish Futsal is "very much in an embryonic stage", according to Jim Sinclair, of the Scottish Football Association, he added that "we already have a few groups who are Futsal crazy and play it constantly".
While full-blown participation in UEFA's club and national team competitions may be a little while off, the SFA is committed to the sport. "We are still at the stage of trying to establish how Futsal will progress but the numbers playing are slowly but surely starting to increase," Mr Sinclair added.
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