Futsal replaced Football in the Youth Olympics, and it was amazing!
Futsal, although growing, is still unknown by many! Yet, when it was given its opportunity on the global stage, it was an resounding success.
We all wished it, we all dreamed it, but did we think it would really happen? Well it became a reality this year! With 20 teams and 200 players aged between 15 and 18, all of them fought it out for gold, silver and bronze and the chance to etch their names in the annals of futsal history.
It had it all
Replacing football (or soccer for some), futsal had to step up and be what we all wanted it to be. The futsal quality on show demonstrated at the Youth Olympic Games was explosive, exciting and very entertaining. It had amazing goals, flair, upsets, chips, lobs, cards... you couldn't have asked for any more.
Across the men's and women's categories, Portugal and Brazil took the Gold medals, both countries with futsal at the core, unlike in the UK, where the sport is just starting to experience a surge in participation and uptake.
Women's Olympic Gold - Portugal
In the women's tournament, Portugal's Fifo (aka Ana Sofia Gonclaves) scored a prolific 21 goals of her side's 57, finishing off with a gold winning 4-0 over Japan, scoring all 4 herself! A very impressive way to win the first ever Olympic gold for futsal. Portugal were training for this tournament for a long time, and the hard work paid off.
Men's Olympic Gold - Brazil
The fact that futsal has never featured in an Olympics before, the organisers and everyone from the futsal community were hoping for this to be a big success. Brazil met Russia in the final, having already played them in the group stage winning 6-1. Even though the final wasn't as clear cut, Brazil were always looking to win, and did just that. Brazil reached the final overcoming fierce rivals Argentina in the semi-final 3-2.
“Futsal put on its best face here; I think this has been a fantastic tournament”. “Our sport is high tempo and spectacular to watch. And it’s easy for the fans to understand, even if they’re watching for the first time.”
- Argentina’s Fernando Wilhelm, winner of the golden ball during his team’s triumphant campaign at the 2016 Futsal World Cup.
Futsal proved itself to be a huge hit at the Youth Olympic games, but we need to see it more and more now.
English Futsal on TV
This weekend just saw England Futsal retain their title of champions in the Futsal Home Nations Championship 2018, which was available on the BBC Sport App but also on TV via the red button on BBC. You don't have to go back that far, and English futsal was being played in the shadows, even when the tournament is on an international level. Next step, futsal introduced into the next full olympics?