Football NSW Futsal Youth Academy underway


Why has the Youth Academy been setup?
RV: The main aim is to produce a team that will assist the Men Thunder team in their preparations for the AFC Club Championship in July 2009.  However, we also want to produce players that will eventually become the athletes for our future All Age State teams by fast tracking their physical, tactical and technical development, and we want to utilize this program as the blueprint for future programs extending across other age groups and gender
How often is the Squad getting together?
RV: We train once a week in a 2 hour session at Valentine Sports Park, Glenwood on Monday nights. The sessions are very intense, as we attempt to emulate the physical effort that is required to compete at the elite Men?s level. We have identified two main areas of improvement when our teams compete at international level: inability to maintain the necessary level of intensity throughout games and difficulties in retaining possession when faced by pressure defence. Our program, based on the Spanish system of Youth training, is designed to improve those two areas by the use of very high intensity integrated training focusing on specific game situations.
Why did the Youth Academy adopt the Spanish system? Why not use a Brazilian or other European setup?
RV: The Spanish system emphasizes a team oriented game based on a very good and solid tactical approach underpinned by an extremely sound technique that can be reproduced under pressure, albeit without exhibiting the ball wizardry of Brazilian teams but very coachable and suited to our players.
How were the Youth Academy players Selected?
RV: To put the squad together we targeted athletes with the potential and desire to improve their knowledge of the game with a view to All Age representation in the future.  We looked for players with the necessary willingness to work and learn and who had demonstrated the correct attitude. The bulk of the players were drawn from the Youth Thunder and Lightning teams who competed at the Nationals last January and some players recommended by their club coaches.
What coaching staff is involved in training these young athletes?
RV: We have managed to put together a very experienced and capable team who are very committed to the success of the program. Archie Kazas looks after the physical fitness aspect of the squad. He has been conducting tests and he will put together individual training programs based on the results achieved. Steven Knight, Futsalroo Assistant Coach for the 2008 World Cup qualifiers, and David Saliba, 2009 Youth Thunder Coach, bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the set up. What makes this an exciting situation is that, even though we all have our own ideas, we are united in the way we want to see the squad play and the methodology that we employ.
Can you see any of the Youth Academy players playing in the Men?s Thunder side at next year?s Nationals?
RV: That is a difficult question to answer. There are some very good players in the current men?s squad, but having said that we hope that the Academy members, given a reasonable rate of improvement, will be pushing the incumbents.
Are there any players in the academy we should look out for in the future?
RV: The squad is very even in terms of ability and all the boys have shown a great deal of commitment so far. It is difficult to predict the individual rate of improvement but I am sure that the players? clubs and the sport in general will reap the benefits.
With two sessions under your belt, how have the sessions gone?
RV: We are very pleased with the way the training is progressing. We have prepared a very comprehensive training plan, the effort the players are asked to put in is quite demanding and so far they have all been very good in their response.
Are there opportunities for Futsal coaches to come down and learn at these sessions?
RV: Very soon we will be extending invitations to coaches to attend and watch the sessions with a view to improve their understanding of the content being taught and the methodology used. I would hope that the coaches will avail themselves of this opportunity to improve their knowledge of the game.
There have been a few rumours that the Youth Academy may play in the Winter State League; do you think this will be a good idea?
RV: That is a possibility. If it comes off the benefits will be two fold: the coaches will be able to ascertain the boy?s progress in a competitive environment and it will give me the opportunity to gage the coaches? performance and to provide them with beneficial feedback.
Will there be a Girls Academy setup similar to what is in place for the Boys / Men?s?
RV: As I said before we want to use this program as a blueprint for the future and I would personally like to see it expanded to cover other age groups as well. It is by no means perfect, and we have identified some changes that can be made, but I honestly think that we are on the right track and this is not to devalue previous endevours.