You've seen the hype. Now it's time to join the futsal revolution.
We are holding trials across two dates in July for our women's squad, with positions in our first and reserve teams up for grabs. Here's what you need to know:
When? Monday 24th and Monday 31st of July.
Where? Testlands Wellbeing Hub.
How does it work? Register to let us know you're coming, then show up to play. We'll announce teams shorty after.
What do I need to bring? Indoor shoes and plenty to drink.
What will we do? We will play lots of game based activities and matches to assess the ability of those in attendance.
If you're new to futsal and don't know much about how it operates in England, here's what you may need to know:
Can I play if I've never played futsal before?
Yes. There is a lot of overlap between football and futsal, similar to tennis and badminton. Over the past few years, the team and the league have progressed massively. It is possible to go from complete beginner to first team starter, but only if you're a special player and a fast learner. The rules shouldn't take too long to pick up, but the tactics and game understanding can be difficult if you're new to the game.
When are games and training?
Games are Saturdays, and kick off times will vary. Our home matches will primarily be at Southampton Solent University, with Sparsholt College, Andover Leisure Centre, and Five Rivers as backups. Training is Monday evening at Testlands Hub, and providing we hit our sponsorship targets, we intend to have a second session on a Monday.
How does the league work?
There are two divisions of women's futsal nationally. The league is called the National Futsal Series (NFS). The first division is called Tier One, and has eight teams competing nationally. That should be Bloomsbury (London), London Helvecia, Bolton, Birmingham WLV, Hartpury (Gloucestershire), and ourselves, being joined by Stevenage and Sunderland next season, as they gained promotion. Tier Two is split into a North and South Division. The winners of T2 North and T2 South gain promotion into T1, replacing the two bottom teams. The T2 South teams ae Bedford, London Genesis, Cambridge, Reading Royals, with a handful of yet to be announced new teams joining the league.
T2 will now work on a straight home and away basis, with likely 10-14 games played over the course of a season. Previously, all T2 games were up in Bedford at a central venue. Now, we will get to play half our games right here in Southampton, and the other half at the venues of our opponents.
T1 is going to be a hybrid model of home and away, plus central venue. Each team will still play everyone twice, giving us 14 league games. The eight teams will be grouped geographically, meaning teams will play a home and away series against teams that are relatively close. The other games, against teams in the other geographical group, will be played at central venues, likely around Birmingham. This means there won't be any away days up in Sunderland. The top four teams qualify for the playoffs, with the national champion being decided in the grand final. The bottom two teams will fall through the trapdoor and back into T2.
If I start in the reserve team, can I work my way into the first team?
Yes. Ultimately, we want to win. So if a reserve team player is doing well, she will be given a shot in the first team. Last season, we had four players start in the reserves and finish in the first team, with another four reserve players being given game time in the first team. The league has rules in place to prevent teams from abusing the system and registering their best players as reserves so they can win all their reserve matches, while still playing for the first team. As it currently stands, a reserve team player can play four first team matches. As soon as they play a fifth first team match, their registration switches, and they can no longer play reserve team games.
If I get selected for the first team, but I'm not getting much game time, is it possible to play for the reserves?
Yes. Currently, reserve teams can include one first team player in the squad. If a first team player plays five reserve team games, their registration switches, and they become a reserve team player that can only play reserve team games. It's also possible for us to request with the league that our player registrations switch in January.
Is there a lot of travel?
There was, but there won't be anymore. The reserves had to go to Bedford for every game, which was between two and a half to three hours. Now, half our games will be here in Southampton, and Bedford will be a one-off away game, with all other T2 teams being closer in distance than Bedford. Regarding the first team, we have never played a competitive game in Southampton, and only one competitive game in Hampshire. The hotel stays and long drives will be a thing of the past with this new format. We are very excited to be having home games at Southampton Solent. Barring an unfavourable cup draw, we shouldn't have to travel more than three hours for an away game.
What kind of commitment is required?
It's fair to say that playing in the first division, competing nationally, with games broadcast live, there is a lot of commitment. The training is local, which is easy to manage, and now with considerably more favourable fixtures and league format, the travel for games is only a fraction of what it was before. We have plenty of students and full-time workers already within the squad. It's likely that, depending upon the schedule, you'll be playing between one and three games per month. It's rare that we play two weekends running. The season will start on September the 9th, and the regular season will be wrapped up in March or April. If we qualify for the playoffs or latter stages of the cup, May could be a busy month.
So realistically, we're looking at two games per month. Regular training attendance is expected, like with any team sport. As for games, this must become a priority. We get that life happens, and we're very sympathetic to that. But if you're going to play at this level, it must be a priority of yours. Players shouldn't be missing games for social reasons. As we don't play every week, you'll still be able to make plenty of social arrangements, and with home games and way less travel to endure, you'll have plenty of time on your weekends to enjoy after futsal.
Will the games still be on TV?
Yes. There will be changes to how it is done, but we will still be playing games on TV. The eight central venue games will likely continue to be on BT Sport, or at least YouTube. For the home and away games, all teams must upload full footage of their games. Some teams may even have the capacity to live stream their matches. Even in T2, we had all of our games recorded. As you can see from our social media channels, we make sure that our goals and highlights are seen by fans.
Is it fun?
Yes. You'll love it. If you don't believe us, check out this video.
Come along. We look forward to seeing you on the court.