This weekend’s planned futsal activities were heavily impacted by the rainy weather that afflicted large parts of the country. Indoor futsal returned from yesterday for adults, although because many sports facilities are still not available to book for futsal, we can expect outdoor competitions and events to continue for some time yet. All matches in the Futsal Premier League and the London Futsal League were postponed – we will now see the finals of both competitions being played at a later date. In Bristol, not a city famed for its dryness at this time of year, the weather wasn’t too bad and the LNFS England funded “Best in the West” tournament was hosted by Futsoul. It featured teams from across the West Country playing on an excellent outdoor surface in Horfield, with some fast and furious futsal on show and some very talented players taking part in all categories.
Futsoul ‘Best in the West’ U10s
The youngest age group in the competition kicked off on Saturday afternoon and featured two teams from Futsal360 (U9 & U10s) and Freedom4Futsal, based in Evesham, Worcestershire. Teams played some excellent futsal throughout, producing lots of goals and action. Freedom4Futsal ended up as the first ever champions after topping the group on goal difference – George Clark winning the MVP award after dazzling everyone with his smart touches and a bag full of goals.
Futsoul ‘Best in the West’ U12s
The older age group had four teams, an U11s and an U12s from Futsal360 and the two winning sides from the qualifying stage hosted by Worcester Futsal Club – Herefordshire Reds and Herefordshire Blues. The group stage matches were a pleasure to watch, some incredible individual players and the ball was moved around quickly with lots of closely contested matches. After finishing second in the group stage, Herefordshire Blues were eventual winners of the competition, William Utley winning the competition MVP award after an outstanding performance in goal for the Blues.
Futsoul ‘Best in the West’ Adults
Rain did threaten to interfere with play on the Sunday – the first two matches being a bit slippery, but the sun made an appearance around 1pm and the majority of matches ended up being played in perfect conditions. Local qualifiers had taken place over the last five weeks in Bristol, with an excellent competition managed by Futsoul providing an opportunity for six local teams to regularly play futsal for the first time in the city. Worcester sent their two teams to compete against the champions of the Bristol competition (Spanish Armada) and a Futsoul All Star team. The first round saw the All Stars catch Worcester firsts cold, claiming a 2-0 victory whilst Worcester seconds and the Armada played out a 0-0 draw. Then Worcester firsts beat the seconds while the All Stars dispatched the Spaniards in a set of ‘derbies’. The final round saw Worcester seconds do a much better job than the firsts against the All Stars, while Worcester firsts made easy work of the Spanish Armada. You got the sense that after travelling, in some cases from as far as Birmingham, the Worcester squads were finally settling into the tournament.
The third and fourth place play-off between the Spanish Armada and Worcester seconds went to penalties after a thrilling 2-2 draw that saw the Spaniards come back from 2-0 down, levelling in the final minute with a controversial penalty. The shootout saw some fantastic saves from both keepers, but Spanish Armada eventually won it 2-1 in the shootout.
The final saw a repeat of the day’s first match and it was a tight match despite the final score line. Worcester made the breakthrough just before half time an excellent volley at the back post by Andrew Lanham beating the All Stars keeper to settle the nerves. The second half saw the All Stars pretty much camped in the Worcester half, but Worcester were able to score another excellent goal, this time a long range effort from a corner to make it comfortable. Outstanding saves and general dominance by Dylan Malpas in the Worcester goal always gave the away side confidence to be aggressive, and though the All Stars got one back with ten minutes remaining good defending made it difficult to create too many opportunities. All Stars ended up playing fly-goalkeeper for the final five minutes, and the Wolves punished them on the break with two goals that took the game away from a frustrated All Stars team. Worcester became the first ever ‘Best in the West’ Champions with a deserved victory in the final, their goalkeeper Malpas winning the tournament MVP award for an outstanding display all day in their goal.
We will be continuing to round up as much action each weekend as possible. Any contributions should be sent to [email protected]