By Reece Chambers
Over the summer, a number of students represented Cardiff University Futsal team at the UEFA Champions League Futsal preliminary rounds in Poland.
The Cardiff University Futsal team that travelled to mainland Europe was made up of a combination of Cardiff University students as well as Welsh National League players joining to wear the Cardiff University badge.
After a long journey to Poland, the team took part in three matches against top quality opponents from across Europe. And, despite failing to win any of their three matches, the team registered a point against Varna City with losses to Record Bielsko-Biala and Racing Futsal Luxembourg.
Regardless of the results for the team, travelling to Poland and competing in a tournament as prestigious as the UEFA Champions League would have been immensely valuable for the players’ progression in the game of futsal.
Second year student Ryan Dabbs topped off a personally impressive first year of sport for the University by making the trip to Poland to represent the University.
Speaking exclusively to Gair Rhydd, Dabbs was quick to outline how much of an ‘incredible’ experience taking part in a UEFA Champions League tournament was for both himself and his team mates.
“It was an incredible experience, especially with it being a UEFA tournament it was clearly very professional and well organised,” said Dabbs.
“It’s definitely got to be the highlight [of my career], having only played futsal for 10 months it’s been an enjoyable time for me, playing at St George’s Park and now in the champions league. Not many people are able to say they’ve played in a UEFA tournament.
“When I was younger I played in Northern Ireland for a week but the professionalism doesn’t compare, with every little detail focused on.”
Given that Cardiff University Futsal team have been very successful in the domestic BUCS league, they were clearly disappointed to have not registered a win in the UEFA tournament. Dabbs was clear disappointed with the results but acutely aware of the quality in opposition.
“I think it was disappointing we weren’t able to get a win in one of the final two games but we were still pleased with getting a point and scoring a goal in each game considering the quality of some opposition.
“It was a very big test but also very enjoyable because you saw them do some things with their movement and tactics that I’ve never seen before,” said Dabbs.
The team will be hoping to take lessons from their travels in Poland as they embark on the upcoming BUCS league which kicks off on 14 October when the men’s 1st team host Brunel University.
“I hope it strengthens the team… I think experiences like that helps any players and team.”
Much is often debated amongst football and futsal fans about the differences between the two sports. Therefore it was interesting to hear Dabbs’ thoughts considering he plays for both University teams.
In Dabbs’ opinion, there are actually only a few similarities.
“They’re completely different and only share a few similarities. Futsal is played at an incredibly high intensity the entire time, so you only play four or five minutes before coming off, and then going back on five minutes later,” said Dabbs.
“One mistake in futsal is always punished due to the small court, whereas in football one mistake might not be as bad because there are 10 other players there on a much bigger pitch.”
Ranked in the Premier South division of the BUCS Futsal division, Cardiff University have a highly-ranked team who compete against other high-performing Universities. And, whilst futsal might be an unfamiliar sport to most footballers, it is a sport that is just as entertaining and rewarding to player as football.
If you have played football for a number of years and are looking for a change at University, futsal may be that answer.
Cardiff University Futsal team will be at the Freshers’ Fair in the Students’ Union on 24th September to sign up to trials for the team.