What a fantastic year it has been for Futsal Escocia. We continue to grow and develop year on year and after the impact of covid 19 we are now back stronger than ever!!
At the end of every year I take time to reflect on the previous year on a personal and business level. I also set objectives for the year ahead.
On a business level, 2023 surpassed most my objectives but failed in creating a girls section.
I highly recommend setting yourself objectives for 2024. Try to make them realistic and achievable but something you have to work for.
The Academy has seen numbers grow to over 300 children a week doing futsal sessions across Fife, with a further 50 players now on waiting lists. As the Academy is run as a business, the increase has been welcomed but it also comes with further complications in terms of VAT registration that I don't really want to bore anyone with. I have a few big decisions to make about developing the Academy further in 2024.
The increase in numbers highlights that we must be doing something right and the success of players from the Academy is backing this up.
In the last year, I have been to Barcelona and Rio de Janeiro on coach education, learning from the top coaches at Flamengo, Fluminense, Botafogo, and FC Barcelona. I take a massive amount from these experiences, probably the biggest one being not to over complicate things. Our coaching programme is on a par with what I have watched at each of those clubs.
In 2024, we will continue with our current programmes and our testing programme with Raeside Pro Edge Conditioning. Increasing female participation and a return of Ninos for 4-6 year olds are priorities.
The pathway for the male side is now complete with teams from u7 all the way to adult. This year we also started a B Team to participate in the SFL Edinburgh with the first team now competing in the SFL Super League.
With the youth teams, the main objective is and always will be player development. Of course we want them to win but this should not be prioritised over individual development. We want our teams to be recognised as Futsal Escocia teams, comfortable on the ball, hard working, with a philosophy of playing out of defence, rotating positions, attacking and exciting to watch.
Our first team objectives for 2024 are to finish as high as we can in the Super League and to go as far as we can in the cup competitions. For all levels below the first team, the objectives are for players to keep progressing through our pathway and eventually being involved with the B team and first team.
This year has been the highest amount of teams that we have ever had involved, with an incredible 124 teams participating this winter.
In the summer we introduced our 3v3 leagues for under 7's and this has been a massive success in terms of coach, parent and player feedback.
In 2024, we will look to retain more teams playing futsal over the summer and to try and include more girls teams.
Our whole ethos is about developing players and it is extremely rewarding to see players that you have coached go on to be successful. Over 120 players, in 8 years, have now progressed to a pro environment. A number have also went on to represent their country. For a small academy from Fife, this is massive and should provide the next generation with the belief and ambition that they can do the same.
Our new Hall of Fame section details the players that have progressed to national team selection at futsal and football and how the players believe that futsal has helped them in their development. It worth a look on the website.
With 120+ progressing to a pro environment, the sad reality is that a large percentage of those will also be released back to grassroots football and we can help players and parents manage the disappointment. I've been there as a player, parent and coach.
Being signed in an Academy at 10 years old does not guarantee success, and we will be doing well if 1 of those 120+ makes a career and living out the game. This is why it is more important to teach the players life skills and lessons that will prepare them for anything they do in life. I also believe that our honest approach is one of the reasons that so many players are progressing to a higher level.
I 100% believe in futsal and my trip to Brazil just further confirmed that. I genuinely do not believe that there is anything better for player development. With kids not playing football on the streets, futsal is as close to street football as you will get. In my opinion, Scottish kids are often over coached and we go to 7, 9 and 11 a side too early. Through 3v3 and futsal we will see technically better players, more creativity and 1v1 dominant players. This is the direction football is going.
My coaches and I take great pride in seeing players we have coached progress to a higher level and we want more of our players to be successful. I just need to find a way to work around business matters to provide futsal coaching and leagues to as many players and teams as possible.
There's still a number of areas that I believe we can improve on and we will strive to do so.
I would like to thank all the coaches, parents and everyone connected with Futsal Escocia for a truly amazing 2023.
Have a fantastic Christmas and all the best for 2024!!