The North West has always been a hub for footballing talent and that reputation is only getting better here in Greater Manchester and Salford, specifically, through one of the sport’s best proving grounds: futsal.
Ordsall Leisure Centre is the new home of the state-of-the-art futsal facility SCL Arena, set to revolutionise the sport in the North West of England. Futsal has gained fast momentum in recent years and our region was due a new home for the sport.
For those that aren’t familiar with the game, futsal is a type of football played indoors on a much smaller, hardcourt pitch. It is also played with a smaller, harder ball that is less bouncy to encourage control, improvisation and technique.
Think almost the ‘joga bonito’ days, FIFA Street or Volta in the new ones, only there’s no bouncing the ball off the walls in futsal. Here’s a taster from our very own Manchester Futsal Club.
Now, thanks to a £190k grant from the Premier League, the FA (Football Association) and the Government Football Foundation (GFF), as well as an additional £127k from Salford Council, Manchester is now home to one of the best places to play futsal in the country.
The project also comes with the construction of new changing rooms and an educational space and a recent showcase event featured constant futsal action from academy players and a local primary school, with some truly fantastic talent on display.
Watching on was the CEO of the Manchester FA, Colin Bridgford who spoke of the importance of bringing the facility to Salford.
“It’s a great opportunity for Salford to have the first dedicated futsal centre. It’s been much needed and it gives people an opportunity to learn about the game.”
“Everyone plays football”, he continued; “Salford and Manchester are a hotbed for the sport but understanding the technique and the skill of futsal is so beneficial for young players.”
If you grew up in Salford or Greater Manchester playing the beautiful game, you’ll understand the struggles of finding a place to play.
If the ‘no ball games’ signs don’t throw a spanner in the way of a kickabout, the weather more than likely will — and that’s just for football.
In our not-so-tropical climate, futsal simply has to be played indoors so the opportunities to play around here have previously been limited.
The SCL Arena at Orsdall Leisure will not only be a place for sport to thrive but will serve as an inclusive hub for promoting and developing talent within the community and beyond.
“You can’t play it if you don’t have the facilities as we all know. The investment from the FA and the local authority of Salford have put into this has been fantastic.”
“You do need that place where you can just walk into an arena like this where the pitch is purpose-built and the markings are really clear.”
As you might expect, the game originated in South America in the 1930s and soon spread across the world. In countries like Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Portugal, young players are brought up on the sport with the world’s best footballing talent owing their skill to the small-sided game.
Both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi began plying their trade on the futsal courts of Funchal and Rosario respectively. Maybe a future Ballon d’Or winner will forge their success in Ordsall Leisure Centre, you never know!
“It’s certainly a growing sport in England. If you look at it around Europe, particularly in Spain and Portugal, this is their day-to-day and that is where you get to see players working their way to the Premier League.”
“What futsal does is keep the flow of the game and makes players think quicker, it’s not always about what is happening at your feet but what’s happening upstairs – it’s a really adaptive game.”
“The skills and technique certainly come from futsal so if we can create more technically minded individuals in England then the future holds well and this is a great place to start.”
If you’re a fan of a fast-paced game with action that can happen right up until the final whistle then futsal might be for you. But most importantly, it’s about getting up and active and now it’s possible to enjoy the game right on our doorstep.
Colin put it perfectly: “Irrespective of whatever game we play, whatever sport we play we do it for fun and what I’ve seen today is young people smiling, being active and having a great time!”
Featured Images — The Manc Group/Manchester Futsal Club (via Instagram)/Supplied
Stockport County create a new community mural with young street artists in Edgeley
Stockport County is creating a brand new mural with a group of young street artists from the local area and a little help from one of their squad members.
This past February half-term, the Greater Manchester football club enlisted the help of some schoolkids and aspiring artists, along with local creatives from around the area to create a brand new piece of artwork right in the heart of the community.
With some paint, plenty of spray cans and the expertise of Manc muralist and designer, Oskar With A K, and poet Ruth Awolola, a dozen local secondary school pupils helped write, design and paint the mural — taking inspiration directly from the club and the thriving fan culture in Stockport.
There is no chant more iconic and important to the Hatters than their famous ‘The Scarf My Father Worse’ song and that’s exactly what the local artists have decided to immortalise.
🖼️ A new County-themed mural is currently being created in Edgeley by a talented group of young street artists – with a little help from Ethan Pye!
The new Stockport County mural is being completed as we speak.
The painting process began on Friday, 16 February and, as you can see, they even managed to rope in County defender Ethan Pye came along to lend a hand with the mural, armed with a can of spray paint to help the young people bring their ideas to life.
Being developed by the Stockport County Community Trust in collaboration with North West organisations, GRIT Studios and The Writing Squad, ‘The Scarf My Father Wore’ project has received £14,800 from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
Popping in a prime location on the corner of Castle Street and Mercian Way — just metres away from the Edgeley Park stadium and right at the beginning of the local village high street — this vibrant work of art will be passed by thousands of commuters and pedestrians every day.
Being brought to life in brilliant blue and white in line with the club’s colour scheme and proudly printing the title of the famous chant on the wall along with stencils of the County crest, footballs and many other details, it sits pride of place in the Stockport suburb.
Ethan offering his services off the pitch too.You can’t miss it.Credit: Supplied
Much like the historic chant and the symbolic scarf itself, this brilliant piece of street art will be passed down and enjoyed by generations to come, as well as make sure the club continues to play a key role in local culture.
County’s Community Trust CEO Alison Warwood said: “This project shows how art and writing by young people can make a real difference to the local community, and I can’t wait to see the end result.”
John Macaulay from GRIT Studios added: “We’re thrilled to be involved in such a collaborative and community-spirited initiative. Our young artists will be helping to create a lasting landmark that will become a focal point in Edgeley for years to come.”
With the Hatters currently top of the League Two table and looking at yet another promotion season, there feels like no better time for fans to wear the club on their sleeve, their scarves around their necks and now up on the wall too.
Manchester City legend Joe Hart announces he will be retiring at the end of the season
Manchester City legend and ex-England international Joe Hart has announced he will be retiring at the end of the season, bringing a close to a career spanning over two decades.
The iconic Man City keeper and former Three Lions goalkeeper played 266 games for the Blues and had 75 senior caps, but has finally decided to call it a day at the age of 36.
Currently in net for Scottish giants Celtic, who are going for an incredible 54th league title this season, the number one and long-serving English keeper confirmed in a club interview that he will be hanging up his gloves at the end of this campaign.
He also represented his country at three major international tournaments but says he is now in a “place of clarity” and confident in his decision, with manager Brendan Rodgers insisting he will be a “huge miss to the game”. Truly the end of an era.
🧤 Joe Hart announces that he will be retiring from playing football at the end of this season.
Joe Hart is retiring after 20 years at the top level.
Having spent 12 years at City between 2006-2018 and making over 340 appearances in the Premier League at the likes of Burnley, West Ham and a handful for Spurs in club competitions, not to mention nearly a century of games for Celtic since 2021 already, it’s fair to call Joe Hart a footballing veteran.
All told, he has made over 700 appearances at club level and even more all-told, with half of a blockbuster season in Scotland still yet to go. Quite the achievement.
Most famously back here in Manchester though, not only did he pick up four golden gloves during his time at the Etihad but he was also in net for the Aguero goal when the Blues won their first league title in 44 years, and his reaction to the stoppage time winner is almost just as memorable as the strike itself.
But, more importantly, he had plenty of highlight reels of his own.
Speaking to Celtic TV following the announcement, the Shrewsbury-born shot-stopper said: “This something that I have thought about for a while, there’s no right or wrong time is there?…
“Physically I feel great — I feel as good as I possibly can do for my age and what I have done to my body, I have been on the bench since I was 15 and have been involved in professional football every day since I was 16.
“I have gone down every avenue to keep myself in the best possible shape to give my all on game day and I do really think I am at that peak, but I am aware time waits for no man and I don’t want my body to be retiring me. That was one of the key factors, thinking I can smash through the finish line.”