The Brazil Women’s National Team recently claimed their fifth consecutive World Futsal Championship, held in Costa Rica after Russia pulled out as hosts just weeks before. Brazil remain the only nation to win the tournament, regarded as the de facto world championship for women as no official competition exists.
The feat of the Brazilians is even more impressive when you consider that, just weeks before the tournament was due to start, they were forced to pull out when the Brazilian Futsal Federation announced it lacked funds to finance the team’s participation.
The players demonstrated the determination and fighting spirit that has brought them so much success on court to take it upon themselves to raise the circa £50,000 ($70,000) for the basic costs of their trip. They initiated a social media campaign and managed to meet their fundraising target after receiving donations including from their male counterparts Falcao and Neto, as well as Spanish Sportswear manufacturer Joma, allowing them to compete.
I faced the same issues when I first began playing futsal in England nearly 10 years ago. There was a lack of competitions, clubs, information, facilities and media coverage. Many of these issues still exist today but there has been a lot of improvement for male players and, more recently, youth players. However, the development of the women’s game still lags behind, not only in England but across the globe.
The progress futsal has made over the last 10 years, due to the effort and time put in from those involved, has been significant. The focus has understandably been on growing the men’s game as a way for futsal to gain a foothold in the ultra-competitive world of sport but this has meant women’s game has been left behind. It is important that efforts are made to ensure this disparity is reduced.
A huge stride forward for the women’s game would be the creation of an official FIFA Futsal Women’s World Cup. A Women’s World Cup will not be the solution alone to resolving the lack of opportunities in women’s futsal but it would certainly be a big step forward. In addition, having both official male and female world championships would also help support a bid for futsal’s inclusion in The Olympics, as covered in my previous post
It is time FIFA demonstrated they care about developing futsal, something that has been lacking since they took control in the late 1980s. FIFA has built up a war chest of nearly $1.5 billion in cash reserves. It is difficult to see how hoarding such amounts of cash is consistent with their slogan ‘for the good of the game’, and it is time they invested in the sport. Creating and financing this tournament is the perfect opportunity to show their support for our game.