Futsal, a variant of football, is gaining traction in the city. It is a five-a-side game with 40 minutes of play time. Ever since Virat Kohli became the brand ambassador of the upcoming Premier Futsal League (PFL), the game has garnered a lot of attention.
India is set to take part in the U-17 Futsal World Cup in Paraguay next month as a wild-card entrant. Four boys from the city have been included in the probables list of 20 boys for the national team. Bharath Raj, Jeet Sampat, Prapikar Darjee and Pratyush Bokardia will take part in a training camp and undergo trials to make it to the team.
The boys are part of the Tamil Nadu U-17 team that reached the finals of the recently-concluded futsal national championships in Karnal. They reached the summit clash after performing superbly — including a 5-0 rout of Andhra Pradesh in the semis — but lost out to Telangana 2-0.
Haroon Sherif has been a part of the national side for quite some time, and has represented India at the Futsal World Cup in Chile. The 19-year-old from Chennai said that the game is really fast when compared to football.
“Futsal is a lot different from football. The passing technique is very unique,” he remarked.
Raj was adjudged the best player at the U-17 nationals. Sampat, 13, has played football at the state level, but switched to futsal because he thought it will give him more opportunities.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has raised questions about the recognition of Futsal Association of India (FAI).
“The futsal that we are promoting is quite different from the one promoted by FIFA, to which the AIFF is affiliated to. The FAI is affiliated to the Association Mundial de Futsal (AMF),” said Mohammed Yusuf, president of the Tamil Nadu Futsal Association.
The players too seemed a little worried about the AIFF fracas. “Even though I am really excited about this, there is a fear that if I fail, I might not be able to switch to football,” said Sampat.
Darjee, captain and goalkeeper of the TN U-17 team, said that he wants to get into Professional Futsal League (PFL).