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Exploring Chinese Futsal with Sergio Gargelli vol.2: Asian Cup still makes pain in my hearth

China is the world's most populous country and one of the most significant countries for many things throughout its history.

In the futsal, however, China still does not have success as we would expect.

The first "original" we had on FutsalFeed, at the beginning of 2020 was with Sergio Gargelli, the real "futsal globetrotter" and the head coach of the China national futsal team.

>> Futsal in China: The biggest country of Asia where futsal is still a small reality

We talked with Gargelli during the Futsal Week Tournament that took place at the end of 2019. Back then, we talked mostly about the future of Chinese futsal. The new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease was something so abstract that we didn't even mention the possibility of blocking the entire world for over a year.

More the year has passed since that interview, and many things have changed. Therefore, we called Gargelli and asked him for another interview to discuss the Chinese futsal situation, especially looking through the prism of the Covid-19 pandemic.

First of all, all the best in the new 2021! What was 2020 for you personally concerning the pandemic itself? In which city have you been most of the time?

"I live in Beijing. The situation in China is relatively safe except in the Hebei Region. There have been several cases. In the other parts of China, life is normal, even if there are many controls. For example, you have to scan the app every time you go to public places, taxis, restaurants, shopping malls, etc.", said Gargelli in the beginning.

In these abnormal conditions, what was the situation with Chinese futsal leagues, futsal clubs, national teams, and Chinese futsal in general?

"There are only two men leagues in China - The first division (Superleague) and the Second division (that is only a tournament with a duration of 20 days), and one women league, which started last year. First Division finished in October last year. The federation created a "bubble" inside the national team training center, and clubs played 15 league rounds in 30 days".

What are the plans for the future?

"Plans for the future are that China national team Federation is waiting for the official confirmation of Asian Cup Qualification, planned for the next October. The first training camp should be in August. The league will be played in four central rounds of two weeks each and should start in July. But that is not confirmed yet".

What is your opinion regarding canceling the Asian Futsal Cup? Do you believe that a solution should have been found, maybe to play a different kind of qualifying tournament sometime later in the year? This way, you will most likely be left with no chance to qualify for the World Cup in Lithuania...

"About the Asian cup, you are touching an argument that still makes pain in my heart. My opinion is the cancellation has not been the best solution. I can't believe that the only continent in the world unable to finish the World Cup qualification will be Asia. I think it was possible to create a bubble where teams could safely play the competition, as it has been done for Club Football Championship in Doha. After two years of preparation, with a good growth of my team, and many personal expectations... I feel really sad".

Let's return to the Chinese futsal.

How quickly do players understand your ideas? What are the next steps for you and your team? What are the new challenges facing the Chinese national team?

"My last training with the National team was 22 January 2020, just before the pandemic exploded. Since that moment - nothing. We didn't have conditions to work. I was delighted with the work done and the results in qualification. After more than one year without training, I have to start from zero to rebuild the team".

Last time we talked about the significant but still untapped potential China has in this sport…

Was there any new information about developing a futsal strategy in China?

"No news after that day... The pandemic blocked everything, and even if China could be considered very safe; the sport is still not at maximum yet".

Gargelli started his futsal in Italy. Do you follow European leagues, especially the Italian league? Which club do you think could be this seasons' champion, not only in Serie A but also in the European Champions League)? Are you satisfied with the development of Italian futsal and European futsal in general?

"I follow Serie A from China. I hope the Italian national team will be back to the top again soon! Which club could be the champion? Hm... It will be a tough challenge between Italservice Pesaro and Acqua e Sapone. However, talking and thinking about these times, which are full of surprises, I would not be surprised if someone else would be champion!"

Through the cross-section of your career, we see that every 3.4 years, you change your place of work as the real globetrotter of futsal.

Do you think maybe about some similar move again?

"You are right. I am a person that likes new challenges. I believe that after 3 or 4 years a coach should change the place. Players need further motivation, fresh air, and the same is for the coach. I am not afraid to change the environment, and I like to break out of my comfort zone after 4-5 years. New challenges give me new energy, make me face a new situation, face a new problem. I see every new challenge as a great opportunity".

In which country did you enjoy working most (except in China, of course)?

"My best experience was in Vietnam, where we started from zero and brought the team to the top of the futsal world. In Vietnam, I was really connected with players, people, and culture. It was a great experience!"

Finally, your biggest sporting desire in 2021 is?

"My desire is the opportunity to go back to training. After one year of courses, practice with kids, and online lessons, I desperately need the futsal parquet. That is the place where I belong. I feel like part of my life is missing. My biggest sporting desire - start with the training process, sit on the bench to compete against other teams. I miss this feeling like oxygen", said Gargelli and concluded the interview.