Columns Valerio Scalabrelli
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Africa is here!

In his new column for FutsalFeed, Valerio Scalabrelli made an interview with Mr. Roy Martìn, CEO of Lanterna International, an agency that is representing futsal players and which is committed to developing futsal in Africa.

African futsal has been on the rise in recent years, but there is much more to be done to raise the quality standards, not just of the game itself, but everything revolving around it. From infrastructure, media coverage, finances, and plenty of other areas that generate interest and quality.

Read all about it in this in-depth interview with Mr. Martìn.

Africa has always been a generous land, rich in beauty and full of open and welcoming people, although we often come to know the continent also for reasons we would never want to know. Africa, however, has never hidden the desire to show the many qualities it possesses. Especially in sport, where on many occasions he has been able to amaze the world audience.

In futsal, however, there is still a lot of work to be done. And it is precisely this impetus that convinced the agency representing athletes, Lanterna International, to invest in the growth of the discipline in the so-called Garden of Eden. Roy Martìn, CEO of Lanterna International, tells us about the current situation of African futsal and the projects that concern its growth.

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Glad to interview you, Roy!

I have read in many media that you wanted to start a futsal development project in Zambia, which also involves former Italian futsal player Andrea Cristoforetti. Would you tell us about it shortly?

"Hi Valerio, it’s a pleasure to be able to have a chat with you even through a screen."

"We have officially started a collaboration with Automotive Futsal Academy where Andrea Cristoforetti, a well-prepared Italian-South African coach, has been involved in Lusaka for several years (since 2015) working on this beautiful futsal project."

"This collaboration has been made official in the past month but it has already started some time ago: on several occasions in the past, we have traveled in several places with the first team of Automotive Futsal Academy, organizing international friendlies to test their strength against clubs outside the African continent, in countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Italy."

"Basically, the collaboration that has been created by Lanterna International, thanks to its prestigious position in the futsal scene, serves as a bridge of connection for the most outstanding players of the academy, so that they may have the opportunity to have experiences abroad. The reason why this collaboration has been thought of is mainly due to the intention of continuing with the development that is being carried out in Zambia since players having experiences abroad can greatly boost not just their careers but both the national and the continental futsal movement as well."

"We wanted to do our part to help this beautiful project which deserves all the attention and support because the people who work for futsal in Zambia are doing a great job, investing money for it: currently more than €1 million has been poured out for the construction of a new full-service arena and a residence to accommodate more than 30 players."

I admit that I regret the lack of international attention on African futsal: it is a land so rich in talent that I believe specific investments, especially in media coverage and in the realization of events involving boys and girls of school age, is enough to make numerous opportunities flourish. Do you think African nations are making progress in promoting the game?

"An effort is being made in the growth of futsal, this is very obvious. However, in the parts of the planet where futsal already has a solid structure, there needs to be more support in order to help them progress. Undoubtedly, the participation and the evolution of our sport must involve continents that are gaining ground and making their way, especially if there are investments in building new structures and in the organization of both national and international competitions."

"We have already seen the organization of the last African Cup, with several nations involved, was well done. While it is clear that there is still a lot of work to be done, we see that African players competing in European competitions continue to increase, even though the majority have dual nationalities with some European countries, which generates much more possibilities at the bureaucratic level."

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I see that Senegal is one of the most interesting national teams in beach soccer, a discipline that combines a part of football technique with a part of the tactical fundamentals present in futsal. Do you think that a hypothetical combination of beach soccer and futsal can favor the growth of our sport where, at the moment, it is not even taken into consideration?

"I can't tell you if the combination of these two disciplines could serve to promote futsal in those areas, but if so that our sport is better known within the African continent, it’s very welcome! However, we must know how to differentiate, because they may have aspects in common but they still are different disciplines. Surely, anything that is needed to make futsal known to communities can be valid. Especially if there is the support of public institutions, which play a fundamental role in the development. In the end, it is everyone's job to make futsal great: we are aware of it, investing our time. Since you and I are talking about it right now, Valerio, it's already a contribution for people to know what's going on."

I’ll end this interview by asking you: is the presence of an international association of coaches, managers, and investors necessary to fill the void left by FIFA and launch futsal development projects in countries where it is underdeveloped?

"Undoubtedly, as I said before, I believe that the connection of all organizations and institutions that are able to contribute and implement the development of futsal in Africa should already support these great initiatives that already exist, such as the one lead by Automotive Futsal Academy, through the improvement of the organizational structures in which the competitions are held, as well as the entire system surrounding the activity."

"I am very positive and optimistic about the future of futsal in Africa because I have been there and I have seen things with my own eyes: hope and desire to do things well so that everything goes well. Undoubtedly it will not be easy but everyday progress is being made. This sport won’t stop growing!"

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Valerio Scalabrelli

Columnist

Valerio Scalabrelli

Columnist

Valerio has been a futsal player for 10 years, winning the Seria C2 in the process, and U18 futsal coach for 2 years. He graduated from Università di Perugia with an M.Sc. in Digital Media. Valerio will mostly write about proposals and ideas concerning the growth of futsal as a (standalone) sport in the era of digitalization and entertainment. As the most known Italian futsal content creator his topics will also be about the Italian futsal movement, focusing on both on-field and off-field topics.

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