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13 March 2008 PR 08/32

Loughborough makes debut in national FA Fustal League

Loughborough University’s Futsal players make their Midlands League debut this weekend as part of a new national structure introduced by the FA.

The inaugural FA Umbro Futsal Leagues, involving the best 23 teams in the country, kicked off this month in the Midlands, South and North in a bid to grow the sport across England.

Futsal is an indoor small-sided version of football which uses a smaller, heavier ball than the 11-a-side game and requires greater skill, movement, fitness and tactical awareness. Originating in South America, players compete on a marked pitch similar to the full size counterpart with hockey-sized goals, but cannot use the walls as in the traditional five-a-side game.

With an emphasis on individual skill and technical development Futsal is a more appropriate development game for football and is widely popular with players of all ages across Europe and South America. Futsal is played for 30 minutes each way with squads of up to 12 players. There is no height restriction on the ball and rolling substitutions are allowed.

Loughborough University head football coach Tom Curtis believes Futsal will help develop his players and he is looking forward to playing a part in developing the sport in England.

“When we heard about the Futsal league we were really keen to get involved,” he said. “Futsal is a great game for developing players and improving core skills that can then be transferred to the football pitch.

“We are the only team from Leicestershire in the league and we’re hoping to raise the profile of the game in the area and get more people playing. Our long-term our goal is to establish ourselves as a leading centre for Futsal, make the University a regional hub for the sport and also involve non-student players.”

Loughborough now face Birmingham Tigers in their opening match this Sunday (16 March) at the Nechells Community Sports Centre in Birmingham.

Eight teams are in the Midlands league and each team will play each other twice. The top two from each division progress to a play-off final at the end of September to contest for the title of National Champion and the qualification place for the UEFA Futsal Cup.

-ENDS-

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Notes for editors:

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry and unrivalled sporting achievement.

It is a member of the esteemed 1994 Group – a set of internationally recognised, research intensive universities – and has a reputation for the relevance of its work. Its degree programmes are highly regarded by professional institutions and businesses, and its graduates are consistently targeted by the UK’s top recruiters.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

In the 2007 National Student Survey, the University was voted fourth in the UK, with 23 out of 29 of Loughborough’s subject areas being ranked in the top ten for overall satisfaction. Loughborough is also ranked in the top fifteen of UK universities in national league tables. It was named winner of the 2006 and 2007 Times Higher award for the UK’s Best Student Experience and winner of the 2007 award for Outstanding Support for Overseas Students. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes – an achievement bettered by no other university.

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