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Players primed for Women's Futsal EURO kick-off

With the third edition of the UEFA Women's Futsal EURO set to get underway in Hungary, we hear from four contenders on their motivations for success.

Spain's Peque ahead of the UEFA Women's Futsal EURO 2023 Finals
Spain's Peque ahead of the UEFA Women's Futsal EURO 2023 Finals UEFA via Getty Images

The hosts qualified for alongside reigning champions Spain, Portugal and Ukraine - four worthy finalists to emerge from a qualification phase that brought an impressive 270 goals in 40 matches, an average of one roughly every six minutes.

At the finals, all four matches will be played at the 6,738-capacity Főnix Arena in Debrecen. The venue also hosted games at the men’s UEFA Futsal EURO 2010, including the final when Spain beat Portugal 4-2.

We spoke to key figures from each of the teams to understand their motivations ahead of the big kick-off.

Hosts Hungary set to seize the day

After two final tournaments in Portugal it is Hungary’s turn to host and captain Adél Varga knows the backing of the fans in Debrecen could push them to their nation’s first major futsal final.

"They can definitely make the difference," says Varga, whose side narrowly lost out on 2022 bronze to their semi-final opponents this time around, Ukraine. "We were able to play a close game against them in Portugal, so why couldn’t we do it again in Debrecen, where we’ll have the support of the Hungarian crowd? It means a lot to everyone to be able to play in front of their family and friends. Hopefully it will be an extra motivation for all my team-mates, and no one will feel extra pressure in front of their own people. A possible good showing would certainly increase the popularity of women’s futsal in Hungary, that is definitely one of the reasons we would like to achieve good results."

How to watch UEFA Women's Futsal EURO

Flawless Spain chase hat-trick

Spain have monopolised the UEFA Women’s Futsal EURO title so far – in fact the only game they did not win over 40 minutes of the 13 they have played since the competition began in 2018 was the final last July in Gondomar, where they drew 3-3 with hosts Portugal after extra time (having come back from 2-0 down) and then prevailed on penalties.

Peque, set to captain Spain in these finals, says: "Confidence is very high, but we know it will be really tough. After a great tournament like EURO last July – in my sporting life, it was my best moment - you always have a little downturn, but we have overcome it and we are already at our peak."

Portugal seeking redemption

Portugal have fallen just short of pipping Spain to the Women’s Futsal EURO title twice now, only losing the second final last July on penalties.

Ana Azevedo, who opened the scoring in the 2022 decider and was named Player of the Tournament, is keen to go one better in Debrecen, starting by beating Spain to reach a third final. "Motivation is always high in our team, especially when playing the most important futsal tournament in Europe," she says. "Our priority is to improve our concentration and focus to a maximum level, so that we reach the final again. If we succeed in doing that everything is possible. There are always interesting matches between Portugal and Spain. I see it as a healthy rivalry that pushes both teams to perform at their highest level."

Countdown to Women's Futsal EURO 2023

Ukraine's unique incentive

"We can’t live our usual life during the war in Ukraine and it has its effect on the training process too" admitted captain Iuliia Forsiuk ahead of the tournament, but that has not diminished her side’s ambition. “We have bronze medals [won in 2022] and we don’t want to stop. Our goal is to reach the final."

This season, Ukraine’s players have been spread across Europe, but they were still able to progress through a tricky qualifying group. Forsiuk emphasises just how much reaching the final would mean to her side. "Women’s Futsal EURO is the most important event of my career,” she said. “I think for every girl it means the same. It is the most prestigious tournament for women’s national teams. I can’t put into words the motivation this tournament gives us. Some players in our squad will end their careers soon and we hope that after the end of the war we will be able to continue to work as coaches for the next generation of young girls."

Read the official tournament programme