July 6, 2012
AUCKLAND – An expanded ASB Futsal National Junior Festival and Youth Championships will see 37 federation teams play over 100 games at Wellington’s ASB Sports Centre this weekend.
The second edition of the competition sees the introduction of an U-19 age group, highlighting the rapid growth of futsal within secondary schools, and innovations at the U-10 and U-12 levels.
New Zealand Football’s Futsal Development Manager Dave Payne said the move to representative federation teams added a new dimension to the battle for U-14, U-16 and U-19 titles.
“The move to federation teams instead of clubs shows how far we’ve come in integrating futsal into the overall football landscape in just a couple of years,” Payne said.
“In the past, this weekend may have been seen as a rare opportunity to play the game but now with through the work of futsal development officers in each of our federations there are leagues to compete in, coaching programmes in place and the championship is part of a larger pathway. It’s a chance to represent their region against the best from around the country and cap what they’ve been doing locally all year round.
“The fact that there are many football players from federation talent centres involved in a futsal championship shows the crossover benefit to both forms of the game.”
Payne was also excited about new formats at the U-10 and U-12 levels where inter-federation matches will be mixed with skill development activities to create a festival atmosphere.
“We’ve recognised that the main focus should still be on development at those ages so we’ve combined the matches with a variety of fun skill development activities in between. There’s still the competitive element but we also celebrate successful team play and individual skill as part of the overall festival at the 10th and 12th grade level.”
The matches get underway at 2.30pm on Saturday with four of the five age groups wrapping up on Sunday afternoon and the U-19 competition going through to early Monday evening.