By: Nuno Ferreira
Brazil beat Portugal 5-1 to become the first Women’s Futsal World Cup champions in last Saturday’s final. A fast-paced indoor version of soccer, futsal is tremendously popular in some of the most advanced soccer nations of the world. FIFA has had an organized Men’s Futsal World Cup since 1989.
The Spanish FA organized the first Women’s Futsal World Cup and invited eight nations to take part. FIFA, which approved the laws of the game, observed the event. This competition took place in Spain from December 6-11 in the towns of Torrejón de Ardoz and Alcobendas on the Madrid outskirts. There were eight countries represented, divided into two groups:
Group A – Alcobendas
Group B – Torrejon de Ardoz
In group play, the highlight was Brazil vs. Portugal. The teams played to a 2-2 draw. In this game, Ana Martins from Portugal scored the goal of the tournament, a back heal flick with her back to goal that sailed over Jozi, the Brazilian goalkeeper.
The first two teams of each group advanced to the semi-finals. In the first semi-final, Brazil beat Russia 4-0 to reach the final. In the second semi-final, Portugal and Spain clashed, and the stage was set to an always vastly anticipated Iberian derby. In an electric match that was considered the game of the tournament, Portugal beat the host nation and came on top 4-3.
In the final, Brazil controlled the first half and took a 2-0 lead, with goals by Lú and Cilene. Portugal pushed forward in the second half, which made for a very open and entertaining affair. Both teams had various goal-scoring opportunities, and things were tight until the end. With a minute to go it was 3-1, and then Brazil scored the insurance goal, making it 4-1.
Overall, Brazil was a very deserving winner. They were the most consistent and entertaining team, displaying tremendous technical ability and movement. Brazil’s free-flowing style showcased why futsal is becoming such a sensation, both as a separate sport in its own right and as a fantastic tool for developing the skills and soccer brain of young footballers.
Not surprisingly, Brazil’s Vanessa was the tournament’s top scorer with ten goals in the team’s five matches.
Brazil: Jozi; Taty, Vanessa, Valéria, Lú
Also played: Ju Delgado, Cilene, Jéssika and Jessiquinha.
Coach: Vander Iacovino
Portugal: Ana Pereira; Ana Azevedo, Inés Fernandes, Daniela Ferreira, Rita Martins
Also played: María Martins, Patricia Magalhaes, Sofía Vieira, Sofía Ferreira, Sonia Coelho, Catarina Silva and Mara Vieira.
Arena José Caballero de Alcobendas.
Referees: Francesca Muccardo (Italy) and Peña Díaz (Spain).
Discipline: Catarina Silva (Yellow Card), Ana Azevedo (Yellow Card)
FIFA will now take a look at its observations and decide if it will add a Women’s Futsal World Cup to its list of regular tournaments, but talks for a next edition of the event have already started. Brazil is lining up to be the host, potentially as soon as next year, and maybe this time the United States will have an opportunity to join in the World top competition of this up-and-coming exciting soccer variant.
Rita Martins was one of the stars of the first Women’s Futsal World Cup. The Portuguese captain scored the goal of the tournament with a back heal flick with her back to goal that sailed over Jozi, the Brazilian goalkeeper, when Portugal met Brazil in Group play. Here’s what Rita has to say about her futsal experience.
OG: How did you get involved in futsal and what attracts you in this sport?
Rita: I started playing in school. I did well there and then at 14, I joined a club.
I find futsal to be very exciting and fun to play. In part, this is because it is played on a smaller field than soccer. Also because it can be played indoors, it can be played all year around, no matter the weather conditions.
OG: How strong is futsal in Portugal? And in particular women’s futsal? Are there female professional players? What kind of crowds do you get?
Rita: Futsal is the number one sport at schools as well as the main indoor sport in general. I would say futsal is (the) number two sport in Portugal, just behind soccer. On the women’s side, futsal has more players and teams than soccer, but one of big issues is that there isn’t a national league yet, only 12 separate regional leagues. There is a though a National Cup where the each regional league winner competes for the national title. Also the women’s national team had been inactive for six years until this first World Cup came about. In Portugal there few professional athletes, and those come from the individual sports. In collective sports like futsal, that doesn’t happen yet. I would say the average for a league match is around 100 people and for the National Cup it goes up to 200.
OG: How are female sport accepted in Portugal and women’s futsal in particular?
Rita: In Portugal women’s sports still lacks visibility. Only when it gets good results in big international competitions (Word Cups or the Olympics) does it get attention from the media. In terms of women’s soccer and women’s futsal, there is still a lack of awareness from the population in general. Mostly, the clubs and its close followers know about its achievements.
OG: What’s the role of futsal in the development of female/male soccer players in Portugal?
Rita: In my opinion, futsal is the base for any players. Its focuses are the passing/receiving technique and ball control, and these are fundamentals for any players development.
OG: Is a good futsal player a good soccer player and vice-versa?
Rita: Due to the technical and motor qualities that are developed in futsal, a futsal player will tend to adapt easily to soccer. The inverse, I believe can be a little harder, because these specific futsal technical and physical skills are not developed on all soccer players.
OG: Do you think that futsal can become an Olympic sport?
Rita: I think futsal has all the qualities to be a successful Olympic sport. It is fast, intense, spectacular and unpredictable. All this makes futsal a great spectator sport as well as attractive for sponsors. At this moment it all depends on the world powers to make futsal Women’s World Cup a regular event, so that in the near future futsal can in fact become an Olympic sport.
OG: Why would you recommend futsal to a girl who already plays soccer?
Rita: If you like entertaining, emotion and magic, you have to try futsal! Nothing else needs to be said.
Jorge Braz – Head Coach Portugal
Jorge Braz led Portugal all the way to the final of the first Women’s Futsal World Cup. Here is his take on the status of the sport in Portugal.
OG: How did you get involved in futsal and women’s futsal in particular?
Jorge: I started on soccer at the youth level. In college, I joined my university’s team, and from there I moved to club futsal. I played and later coached at various clubs in Portugal. I joined the Portuguese Futsal National Team program as an assistant coach. This year, I became the head coach for both the men’s and the women’s national teams.
OG: What is the reality of women’s sport in Portugal, and futsal in particular?
Jorge: Women’s sports still lack resources when compared to the men’s side. Women’s futsal has been growing a lot though. I hope that what these girls achieved at this World Cup helps to improve things.
OG: Why would you recommend futsal to a girl who already plays soccer?
Jorge: I would say for its intensity, relation with the ball, and because it is such a spectacular sport to watch and play.