Taiwan has won the bid to head Asian operations for futsal (five-a-side indoor soccer), and will work with the sport’s international governing body to promote the game in the region.
“Many committee members supported our bid to set up futsal’s Asia head office here in Taipei. Taiwan will from now on take the leading role in the development of futsal throughout Asia,” said Chang Chan-wei, secretary-general of Taiwan’s national futsal body.
At the conclusion of the Asociacion Mundial de Futsal (AMF) meeting held in Taipei last week, the committee members of the sport’s world governing body approved the creation of the Asian Futsal Confederation and voted for its headquarters to be in Taipei.
Chang will be the inaugural secretary-general of the AMF Asia office and will serve a four-year term.
Chang said India and Singapore had also expressed an interest in having the Asian Futsal head office in their respective countries.
“Taiwan won the bid because we worked hard to win the support of committee members from other Asian countries and we also showed them that Taiwan has excellent indoor soccer facilities, with a growing and dynamic grassroots game at many levels,” Chang said.
He also indicated that support from the central and Taipei City governments and the Sports Administration helped Taiwan’s cause.
AMF executive-director Manuel Sanchez of Colombia endorsed the decision.
“It had been a successful meeting here in Taipei, with fruitful results. AMF will now begin a new era, with Taiwan spearheading the futsal movement in Asia,” he said.
Sanchez said that many delegates were impressed by Taiwanese hospitality and their efforts to promote the game.
Chinese Taipei Futsal Association (CTFSA) deputy secretary-general Chang Chao-lu told the Taipei Times: “We are looking at the long-term benefits. It [being the HQ for Asian futsal] will lead to the enhancement of Taiwan’s national soccer program and raise the level of competition in both the indoor and 11-a-side games.”
“The Asian office will manage futsal development programs and international tournaments, assisting second-tier Asian nations in promoting and developing the indoor game in their countries. All this will encourage more youngsters to play futsal and many of them will move on to the 11-a-side game as they advance through the age categories,” he said.
Chang Chao-lu said that futsal can boost Taiwan’s national soccer talent by building up a foundation in the indoor game.
He pointed to Japan’s recent soccer success as a model.
“Many good Japanese soccer players come from youth programs. From kindergarten to the age of about 15, Japanese kids mostly play futsal. Later, they progress to seven-a-side outdoor games and eventually to the 11-a-side game,” Chang Chao-lu said. “We would like to implement this kind of development program starting at kindergarten.”
He said futsal has taken root at some schools and community clubs, mostly being played in school gymnasiums and outdoors on school grounds and in public parks.
Chang Chao-lu said that although both indoor and outdoor soccer are not as pervasive in the school system as he and the CTFSA would like, the situation is changing for the better.
“A number of schools have taken the lead and focus on soccer as the main sport for students, such as Qingjiang Elementary School (清江國小) and Beitou Junior High School (北投國中) in Taipei’s Beitou District. Both have developed good soccer players for many years. We would like to promote these kids’ soccer programs to other schools around Taiwan,” he said.
Acknowledging that a lack of facilities has been a problem, Chang remained optimistic about the future.
“This situation will improve because of our securing of the Asian futsal head office in Taipei City,” he said.
“We will get sponsorship from the public and private sectors, and revitalize soccer in Taiwan by implementing more soccer programs in schools and at amateur level,” Chang Chao-lu said. “More facilities and resources will be made available for training and competitions in Taiwan.”