How I have watched UK futsal grow from nothing in 1998 – to being a massive sport 2017

From left to right:
Grandad Kevin Bryant
James Bryant (GTFC Futsal most improved player 2016/17)
Liam Bryant (next Bryant futsal protegee)
Boys’ dad Mathew

1998 I imported a low bounce futsal ball and introduced futsal to St Martin’s School Grimsby, the first UK school to train futsal.  What got me into futsal so early was a desire to find out why the South Americans could produce a conveyor belt of world class talent whilst England, with just as good raw talent struggled. By various chances I got to meet up with some top coaches, including Brazilian Marcos Falopa, a man that coached Pele.

My wife, a patient school, teacher travelled with me, till the point she said she had heard enough, ‘everyone is telling you the same thing Kevin, play futsal, it’s all they talk about.’ She was right

Before starting my Grimsby futsal leagues I had to ask FIFA to intervene to the FA to allow the game to be played in Grimsby.  At that time the FA had rules restricting futsal to full international rules. No teams were playing in any organised format. For years all FIFA futsal emails came to me, including one offering Iran, then fifth in the FIFA rankings to play in England for a large fee that FIFA would pay 66% of. Thanks to Tranmere futsal club and a generous sponsor Iran visited and the FA sent delegates to watch. That intervention led to FIFA setting up a meeting between the handful of ‘futsal’ people in England; FIFA and the FA.  A futsal development group was started by the FA at FIFA’s behest. I attended all the meetings until the group was disbanded as futsal became part of the FA’s official strategy.

Today the sport is unrecognisable, with Grimsby Town leading the way with an outstanding BTEC course that mixes education and futsal development. Without question the strongest most successful course in England. This year five players are heading to Loughborough University and two to Sheffield and Hallam where their futsal and degree education will continue. If you want to be National league or Cup winners first you have to beat GTFC futsal.

This year I’ve had my grandson James Bryant to follow and I am delighted to report he was Grimsby Town futsal ‘most improved player season 2016/207.’ Well done James. When we sat planning futsal development in 88 I never imagined I would have a grandson playing futsal for Grimsby Town.

One very proud granddad.

Kevin Bryant