Monday 30, January 2012
England goalkeeper relishing Futsal opportunity
MANCHESTER born Futsal international Thomas Bailey is delighted to be representing his country when he takes his place in the England goal for the Partially Sighted Futsal World Games.
As the goalkeeper, Thomas, from Macclesfield, is the only fully sighted player in the squad for the tournament which kicks off on April 1 in the Turkish city of Antalya.
The 25-year-old said: “I can’t wait to get out there and get going with the first game. For me to be involved in something like this is a dream come true.”
He has only been playing the sport for a year and a half so this is his first opportunity of playing in a major tournament.
When talking of the sport, which differs from association football, he said: “It’s great to see that it’s adapted that well to allow partially sighted players to play it.”
Futsal is played with five players on each side on a small indoor pitch. Limited space combined with the use of a smaller, heavier ball is designed to encourage players to keep the ball on the ground and improve their close control.
This is something that Thomas believes can only help English football: “Brazilians and other South American countries play it from such a young age. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t look at it and introduce it into schools. Then if you want to go on and play 11 aside it will help with that.”
Futsal in the long run may have its benefits to football in this country, but at the moment the focus of the England players is to get started in Turkey. They line up against France in their opening match of the tournament, with Thomas in confident mood.
He said: “I think we’ve got a really good chance as we’re currently third in the world. The squad’s looking really good and really fit. There’s no reason why we can’t win it.”
Teammate Steve Daley added to Thomas’ comments on the sport, when he noted the opportunity it has given to partially sighted players.
He said: “If someone told me 15 years ago I’d be playing international football, I’d have laughed in their face. Now I’ve got a career I’m proud of.”
On a domestic level, visually impaired football players in England can ply their trade in the Visually Impaired Football League, which adopted Futsal as its rules in 2009.
The League is part of the Football Section of British Blind Sport.
People who take part in blind football are classified according to their level of sight, as B1, B2 or B3. Players in the B1 classification are classed as blind, while those in the B2 or B3 classification are classed as visually impaired of partially sighted.
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