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.

Brazil claim the Mundial Femenino (Women's World Championship)

Brazil claim the Mundial Femenino (Women’s World Championship)

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.

That the reigning champions participation was in doubt and a change of host at the last minute should be unimaginable but it highlighted the current reality in women’s futsal. Even in countries such as Brazil and Spain the women’s game lacks recognition and attention. In most sports women are underrepresented and under supported but the fact that futsal is a minority sport makes it even more difficult for female futsal players. They face a battle to find playing opportunities and information to feed their passion for the game.
Vanessa, one of the stars of world futsal

Vanessa, one of the stars of world futsal

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 is 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.

Many will look at the grassroots to achieve this as the consensus is to build from the bottom up and finish with creating an elite level. Developing the grassroots is sensible but neglecting the elite level would be a mistake. The transference of growth between grassroots and elite works in both directions.
If you create an aspirational elite game this will attract people and give them something to aspire to. Why do many young children who enjoy futsal more than football still want to be the next Messi and not the next Falcao? The answer is because they are aware of the opportunity to play at an elite level with all the rewards and attention it offers.
Women's futsal in Italy where there are professional players

Women’s futsal in Italy where there are professional players

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 our sport. Creating and financing this tournament is the perfect opportunity to show their support for our game.

A social media campaign to get an official FIFA Women’s World Cup has been started using the hashtag #WomenPlayFutsalFifa. People involved in futsal need to get behind this initiative and follow the example of the Brazilian Champions who have already shown what can be done when the futsal community unites.
In the long term the situation can be improved through creating womens’ and girls’ teams within all futsal clubs, promoting the game to females, hosting female & male games together, organising women’s competitions and giving it more coverage in the media. If this happens then this amazing sport and its stars will get closer to earning the recognition they deserve.

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  1. Doug Reed
    Reply

    Hi Pedro,

    I use numerous sources for my aritcles including news reports, official documents from governing bodies and speaking to people within the game.

    Best wishes!

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