During my childhood in Portugal, all we played was Futsal. The small playing area helped me improve my close control. If it wasn’t for Futsal, I wouldn’t be the player I am today.”
Those were the words of five-time world footballer of the year Cristiano Ronaldo when asked by Fifa.com about the benefits of Futsal to his career development.
Lionel Messi supported the small indoor game by adding: “As a little boy in Argentina, I played Futsal on the streets and for my club it was tremendous fun, and it really helped me become what I am today.”
On February 2, 2017, Sulaiman Mutyaba announced his retirement from football owing to nagging and recurrent injuries that dogged his career.
The former Vipers, TP Mazembe, El Merrikh, and Uganda Cranes midfielder was later lured by Dream Futsal Club to train and play for them in the
Inaugural National Futsal League organised by the Futsal Association of Uganda.
Mutyaba soon recovered from injury and went on to score an astonishing 50 goals in 22 matches as Dream claimed the 2017-18 champions trophy.
His exploits did not go unnoticed as KCCA invited him to train with them and later handed him a season-long contract.
“I have to admit that Futsal was crucial in my recovery,” Mutyaba told SCORE.
“The pitch is relatively small and hard with a small but heavier ball; the action is very intense and extremely fast-paced. You have to be running constantly. This improves your overall fitness level and muscles.”
Futsal is a Fifa-sanctioned five-aside football-like game played with a smaller low-bounce ball on hard indoor surfaces. A full match takes 40 minutes with a ten-minute break in between the halves. The game allows unlimited substitutions throughout.
Mohammed Senfuma, the most successful coach in local Futsal boasting of a league and cup trophy who handled Mutyaba’s recovery at Dream, lauds the player.
“Mutyaba is a special talent with immense abilities so we didn’t add much into his technical aspect but the intensity of the game helped him to regain his fitness and went on to fit in well at KCCA,” Senfuma said.
Mutyaba went on to play over 20 games for KCCA post-Futsal success, scoring 13 goals and about seven assists.
A recent study published by Stadia-sports UK suggests that a full game of Futsal can burn up to 800 calories, reduce inflammation on knee joints, improve muscle tone and elasticity, improves lung health and capacity, and improve cardiovascular fitness.
On a player’s development, coach Senfuma says that “the game helps shape a normal football player in many fronts; it improves a player’s creativity, technique and level of improvisation in difficult situations.”
Vipers midfielder Jamil Kariisa, who crossed from Dream Futsal Club to Bright Stars before joining his current team, counts some of the benefits.
“I played Futsal at a competitive level for about two years, I wish I started it at an early stage,” he says.
“The game helps one to improve on his confidence because you have to play around opponents all the time. It requires creativity, quick thinking and reduces reaction time, so you’ve to learn how to respond faster, improve ball control and accurate passing.”
Some of the notable youngsters who improved their skills in Futsal and have earned contracts with topflight football clubs include Samuel Kato (KCCA), Goffin Oyirwoth (SC Villa), Sadiq Sekyembe and Enock Sebagala (Express)
Mutyaba emphasises the need for Fufa and clubs setting up Futsal facilities to mould youngsters into good players for the future.
“If we are to develop good players for the future, then we need to set up many Futsal courts around the country,” he said.
“Topflight teams should take this up. We will reap if we start engaging the youngsters because that is the right age for learning before start of competitive football.”
Hamza Jjunju, FAU chairman
"We started in 2015. I got the idea of the game while attending a Fifa Beach Soccer course in Entebbe. Fifa instructor Talib Hilal, from Oman, opened our eyes. That was in December 2014. I joined hands with Patrick Lugemwa, Richard Nandigobe Semanda and sports journalist Pius Serugo to start the initiative.
The first ever competition was the University Challenge at Lugogo Arena on March 18, 2015. Since then, we have organised competitions like Futsal Corporate Gala 2015 and 2016, Futsal Mini League 2016, and Futsal Super league 2017 to date, Futsal Uganda Cup 2017-date and the Futsal Super Cup 2017 to date. With the support of Fufa president Moses Magogo, who is also the chairman of Caf committee for Futsal and Beach Soccer, we are grooming talents that will take part in the Futsal Africa Cup of Nations in 2024."