It’s Pompey... but not as you know it

Cristiano Ronaldo honed his talents playing futsal
Cristiano Ronaldo honed his talents playing futsal
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ean Longstaff, left, is Blackpool's second top goalscorer this season with seven goals Picture: Joe Dent

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Cristiano Ronaldo got involved, Ronaldinho loved it and Zinedine Zidane couldn’t get enough of it.

Cesc Fabregas swore by it and even the greatest himself, Pele, formed his wonderful talent playing it.

Futsal is the sport these superstars of the game honed their unforgettable skills playing – and now it’s coming to Pompey.

The Blues are blazing a trail for futsal on these shores, as they take part in a ground-breaking scheme for young talents.

The scheme will offer them the chance to make a name for themselves in the same sphere as some of the best.

And it will also provide them with dream opportunity to pull on a Pompey shirt and wear the star and crescent on their chests.

Pompey are one of eight sides in the south chosen to compete in an all-new futsal league.

That will mean the 17 players picked to make up the squad will also get to operate in an Academy-style set-up.

Pompey have already staged one trial – previewed in The News – which has provided the first squad members. Now the next trials session could see the set-up completed ahead of a new campaign against the likes of Exeter, Bristol City, Plymouth, Cardiff, Bristol Rovers, Cheltenham and Reading.

Former Blues favourite Paul Hardyman, now head of coaching at the Pompey Sports & Education Foundation, believes this could provide a wonderful chance for aspiring players – as well as representing an exciting development for the club.

Hardyman said: ‘This is really exciting news for us and we are all looking forward to getting it up and running.

‘We have funding available for the next three years to get everything going.

‘We’ve run a trials day already and have 50 per cent of our applicants in.

‘These people are going to be representing Portsmouth Football Club.

‘So we want to ensure the standard is as high as we can expect it to be.

‘The futsal team will be run on an Academy basis – as well as that, they are going to be pulling on a Pompey shirt.

‘From the club’s point of view, we are looking to be competitive. Some of the teams have been established for a while and we want to be as strong as them.

‘We have some catching up to do and it may take a little time but we are all looking forward to getting things up, running and established.’

Pompey will enter a fortnightly league programme when their futsal campaign gets under way later this year.

But the futsal scholars will also take part in an academic programme which will run alongside their training schedule.

Scholars will continue their education as they undergo a BTEC Level 3 qualification in sport.

The programme is for year 11 school leavers or year one college students who have undertaken a BTEC level 2 this year.

The FA have invested in the programme and placed an emphasis on education development as well as football progress.

But Hardyman believes seeing futsal grow at Pompey could help players improve their skill sets in the way it has in some other more technically-based football cultures.

He said: ‘Futsal is huge on the continent and the FA and the powers that be are looking to build it up here.

‘At the moment in England it is fairly non-descript.

‘It is a very European sport but we are looking to improve things here.

‘I’ve heard that in those countries like Spain, futsal attracts big crowds. We want to see it get more popular here.

‘We want to encourage a more technical way of playing, focusing on control, passing and dribbling.

‘We think this could be a big success.’

The next Pompey futsal trials day takes place on June 18 at PlayFootball at Roko in Hilsea.

The trials begin at midday. To confirm a place at the trials, contact Victoria Link at the Pompey Sports & Education Foundation on (023) 9272 8899.