Gibraltar will host for the first time a competitive international qualifier next Saturday in the form of the UEFA Futsal Euro Preliminary round group matches. UEFA has pushed futsal as the international standard in-door and five-a-side type of game. It is still a relatively new sport in Gibraltar as it is in much of the rest of the world. Scotland, for example, played their first ever international game against Gibraltar in Scotland just last year. The GFA’s Communication Manager, Steven Gonzalez, explained that the futsal that was played in Gibraltar was more akin to five-a-side football. Since, however, becoming a member of UEFA Gibraltar’s futsal league was set up – specifically governed and run as a futsal tournament.
The Gibraltar futsal squad will take on Sweden and Montenegro on January 28 and 30, respectively, and the team coach, Peter Moreno, sat down with the Chronicle to discuss the tournament and the local futsal set up. Peter spoke to Cristina Cavilla.
How did you first get involved in Futsal?
I got into futsal really because they called me for the Euros – the first European tournament we went to in France in 2013 – and I started as an assistant coach. Before that I used to play football, 11-a-side, coaching the kids and the senior side with Albert Buhagiar.
What have your experiences been like as coach, have you travelled much with the team?
We have been to Moldova, Bulgaria and Malta as we gave played international friendlies with them. The first two were European and World cup qualifiers.
What is the difference between futsal and 11-a-side?
There is quite a lot of a difference. In 11-a-side you have a lot more space and often touch the ball less than in 5-a-side. 5-a-side is also quicker, there is less time to think and the reaction and control of the player has to be good. So, it is really quite different.
So its a challenge for 11-a-side players coming into futsal?
Yeah, that is where it started really with 11-a-side players retiring and coming into futsal. Only now we are trying to aim for the younger players to start in futsal even if they play outside but start playing futsal.
With the current facilities is it difficult to get kids involved?
Yes, at the moment we don’t have any leagues for the kids but it is something that we want in the near future. We hope to start with the schools – that is what we are going to try. We held the Barcelona camp in July to introduce the children to futsal and that was massive we had more than 100 kids.
What are some of the short and long term aims of futsal?
Right now we are just focusing on the upcoming tournament. After the tournament we will sit down with the GFA’s new technical director, Desi Curry, and we will plan the year, we haven’t decided anything yet.
What are your expectations for the team in next weeks tournament?
To do as best as we can. They are two strong teams [Sweden and Montenegro] But playing at home you never know what can happen particularly with a good home crowd.
How special is it to be hosting the tournament in Gibraltar?
It is quite special really because we’ve been outside for this tournament we are not inside with the public and everything, it will be quite special especially for the players who will get to play in front of their family and friends.