On Saturday 27 May, Bootham U16 Girls’ Futsal Club – York travelled to Newcastle to play in the regional finals of the FA Pokemon Cup. The girls were facing two teams, packed with academy players, who they would play twice for a place in the national finals.

Bootham were represented by – Ava W (Captain), Freya D, Evie C, Heather S, Esmee R, Katie D and Sophie T.

The games were 15 minutes long with a constant clock. See below for how the final league table and results ended:

The challenge for the players was to try and score in each game and try and get one win. As you can see they nearly achieved both. Goals were scored by Ava, Esmee and a four for Heather, including a cracking hat-trick. The results really do not represent the way the games went. In Bootham’s second game, they scored arguably the futsal goal of the tournament with a fantastic full court passing move involving every player.

Player Of The Tournament – Sophie T – boy, was she good! She dominated from the first whistle, driving her team forward and really taking control. She was very vocal and directed players on court better than anyone I have recently seen, pretty much a born leader. Her futsal technique was also as good as any player on show with driving runs from the safety position creating chance after chance. I would have no hesitation in putting her into the ladies’ team tomorrow – unbelievable performance, Sophie!

Final thoughts of a coach – I have waited 24 hours before putting my words down as I wanted to get them spot on. Firstly, I am exceedingly proud of the way the team conducted themselves, they really did get better as the tournament went on and none of the results reflected the way they played. Yes the games were littered with individual mistakes, which as always in futsal, cost us dearly, but at times we played some of the best futsal this age group has ever played. Not one player let us down today, and every single player ran their hearts out, one very, very happy coach! Huge thank you to Ellie and Paul for coming and helping out and the amazing support from the parents, we couldn’t do this without you all.

Regarding the tournament – why make players travel such huge distances to play for such a short time with possibly the worst ball I have ever seen? Isn’t this supposed to be the showcase of promoting futsal? Also, dear organisers, make your mind up if this tournament is a grassroots’ tournament or not. Allowing RTC and academy players to play against grassroots teams is both ridiculous and show a total lacking of understanding of the female game. I wonder how many of these RTC and academy players will ever face an open age futsal court, or are they, as I suspect, just trophy hunting… I am proud to say, every single player we had on court today has either trained with, played for or wants to play for our ladies’ team in the National Futsal League, surely this is what you want to promote? It is yet another way futsal is being lost or confused in this current era.

I doubt my words will be liked by both the organisers or the FA but I honestly don’t care, my players deserve so much more. They train their hearts out week in week out to learn FUTSAL and this is often overlooked. I hope one day, we can fly the flag of Bootham Girls’ & Ladies’ Futsal Club at the highest stage in the UK, with players that are truly devoted to the game, and get their due rewards. Until that day, I will continue to champion my players, their amazing hard work and the pride they show in our small club.

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