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Wrexham proving Wales futsal pioneers

Wales will host its first futsal mini-tournament next week when Wrexham Futsal Club stage Group D in Cardiff and coach Marcos Leon and national boss Richard Gunney are excited.

Wrexham celebrate their cup triumph
Wrexham celebrate their cup triumph ©Geraint Duckfield

Tuesday's opening UEFA Futsal Cup match between Wrexham Futsal Club and KMF Tango Sarajevo will mark another step in the development of the game in Wales, as Cardiff plays host to the three preliminary round Group D fixtures.

As well as being Wrexham's debut in the competition, it will also be the first time that Wales has hosted the tournament. The potential benefits are not lost on the Football Association of Wales (FAW) futsal development officer and national coach Richard Gunney.

"Hosting a group stage of the UEFA Futsal Cup really is an exciting development for Welsh futsal, especially as our National Futsal League launches in October," Gunney told UEFA.com. "I really hope Wrexham can cause a surprise in the competition. They have progressed extremely quickly as a team and they really are a fantastic club with some great people involved."

Gunney rightly hints that facing Sarajevo and top seeds Asa Ben Gurion of Israel will make progress to main round Group 4 in Hungary, where last season's finals hosts Iberia Star Tbilisi await, a difficult task for Wrexham. However, the North Wales club are ambitious and enter the competition in confident mood having qualified through winning the FAW Futsal Cup against a Cardiff City FC side that represented Wales in the 2012/13 edition.

Success in the domestic competition was the result of a plan of action to ensure that the only futsal-specific club in North Wales were in a position to challenge for honours, and at the same time become an important part of the community.

Now the club run an established adult futsal league in the Wrexham area and recently started youth and ladies training sessions with a view to developing new teams to play under the club's name. Supported by a small army of volunteers, the club ensures that all money raised is used only to develop futsal.

Goalkeeper Elvi Drizi, a former Albanian Under-21 international, was the penalty hero for Wrexham in the FAW Futsal Cup final with two saves in the 4-2 victory, but the success of the team has been achieved through bringing together established futsal players to compliment talented locals.

New head coach Marcos Leon enjoyed success with Manchester Futsal Club, and while he accepts the challenges his team will face in the UEFA Futsal Cup, he remains optimistic about the competition and his club's future.

"Three years ago Wrexham Futsal Club did not exist," Leon explained. "But we are now preparing to compete against some of the best clubs in Europe. This is a result of the hard work, effort and sacrifice that each member of this club has made during the last three years.

"We are confident, and while we have nothing to lose in our first UEFA Futsal Cup, we are eager to compete in it. The competition will be a great experience, and whatever happens, we will continue working to improve and build on the success that we have already achieved."

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