Futsal Scotland co-founder and Technical Director Mark Potter has recently completed the UEFA B Futsal License with the Finland FA to become the first Scottish holder of the qualification.
The 130-hour course was completed over three separate weeks at the Eerikkilä Sport & Outdoor Resort, some 2 hours north of Helsinki, from August to December.
Candidates on the International course came from as far afield as Greenland, Spain and Morocco with a group of Finland coaches also involved.
All candidates worked on a series of practical, technical and tactical aspects of coaching the game, presented detailed periodization plans and sport specific thesis papers all under the expert guidance of expert FIFA and UEFA Futsal Coach Educator Mico Martic.
Mico is currently the Finland National Futsal Team Head Coach and he was ably supported by Goalkeeping coach Dusan Matic, and course Manager and Finland Under 19 Head coach Kerkko Huhtanen. Matti Anttonen, Tomi Tuominen, Marko Demidoff and Sanna Pirhonen were also involved providing expertise and guidance throughout.
A huge amount of material was covered highlighting the progress futsal has made in recent years and the interaction between the coaches enhanced the experience. Learning came from the course tutors but also the shared experiences and support from the candidates; which undoubtedly helped everyone cope with the long days and challenging material.
A key aspect of the course, also, was the quality of player the coaching team were able to call upon throughout. Finland clearly have a bright future ahead with the national mens team surely certain to benefit from the outstanding development programme in place for underage players. Micos relationship with Kerkko is vitally important in this process with Kerkko overseeing the coach education programme to ensure that club coaches working with young players are giving players the requisite skills and knowledge to gain senior mens honours in the future. The evidence on show during the UEFA B suggests that there is an outstanding pipeline of young players – benefitting from the Finland FAs commitment to Futsal at all levels 6 years ago – and a well-educated and informed coaching cohort continuing to develop players to grow into elite level players.
The Finnish coaches on the course are all clearly well-known to each other and it was a joy to see the camaraderie and competitiveness between them. The leadership team have done a good job gaining commitment to the Futsal cause and developing a sense of achievement from the coaches when their players make the step up to international level. The Under 17 and Under 19 players were all exceptionally talented (with some outstanding players who will certainly go on to full honours) and a delight to work with.
Having experienced the game for 22 years it was a terrific feeling not just managing to achieve the award but to take stock of the fact that such a course now exists, and the growth of the sport is touching all corners of the world. A course like this would never have been thought possible 20 years ago and it says much for UEFA and the experts from Spain, Croatia and Italy that they have made such a massive commitment in support of a game which has constantly grown throughout that time.
So, whilst on a personal level it is a proud achievement – and one which demonstrates that you really can teach an old dog new tricks – it is a testimony to the hard work and dedication of passionate futsal exponents within UEFA to drive through on this journey in the face of a huge amount of reluctance and resistance.
Futsal Scotland is proud to have been part of that journey and remain committed to standing alongside the futsal crusaders in the years to come.