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Leanne Skarratt: I urge those feeling discouraged to not give up on futsal!

Recently, we have reported about the dismal situation English futsal found itself in after the FA decided to practically eliminate all funding for this sport in the country. Everybody was affected by this decision, especially the women in this sport who were promised a national team less than two years ago and who put immeasurable effort and hard work to grow futsal sport on all levels.

Therefore, we asked Leanne Skarratt from Manchester Futsal Club for an interview about some of the futsal things that women in England are facing after the FA’s disastrous decision, but also to talk about women’s futsal in general. Moreover, we are happy to announce that Leanne will join FutsalFeed columnists as well and we are looking forward to her input about women’s futsal on a regular basis.

Dear Leanne, firstly, please tell us a bit more about futsal you. How and when did you start with futsal?

I first got involved in futsal in 2013. I had been a footballer all of my life, playing at a high level until 2008 when my career got derailed prematurely by illness. Six years later after partially recovering my health, I was seeking a return to football when I happened to see a Manchester Futsal Club men’s training session. I was captivated and instantly fell in love with the sport. At the time, there was no futsal for women in Manchester. I spoke with the club Chairman about how we could make this happen, and from there we formed taster sessions. These quickly became popular and evolved into a local recreational league. Manchester Futsal Women’s Club was born from there, and it was a further two years before a National League was created for us to compete in. It has been quite the journey!

And what have been your proudest moments in futsal so far?

I can pinpoint three of my proudest futsal moments so far. The first is getting everything started initially. This was hard work and therefore immensely rewarding when it paid off. The second was starting our girls youth sessions – seeing young girls playing the sport that I love filled me with so much joy. And the third was when our women’s senior team won the FA National Futsal League and FA Futsal Cup double in 2019 after five years of trying and falling short. Perseverance pays off!

Those examples got us pumped as well! What is your current occupation within the sport?

I am currently spinning a few futsal plates! I am Women’s and Girls’ Coordinator for Manchester Futsal Club, a player for our senior team, and a youth coach for our Girls Academy.

Let’s talk about women’s futsal in England for a bit. What can you tell us about the structure of women's futsal in England? In addition, briefly, where could one could find all the usual information about the league, teams and players?

Women’s futsal in England is growing but it is still young, so we do not have many different tiers of competition yet. However, the FA Futsal Women’s Super Series is our national competition – this will be comprised of around 14 teams, split geographically into North and South leagues. Sadly, due to the pandemic, it does not look like we will have a season this year. When it does recommence, a great place to follow the league is on Instagram at @nationalfutsalseries. There are also live updates on Twitter at @FA_NFS. We also have a strong universities competition that can be followed on Twitter at @BUCSsport.

FA's decision to cut funding to futsal in England has left the sport 'hanging by the threads'. The results will be disastrous for women's futsal as well. How does the FA's decision make you feel?

In 2018, we were promised an England women’s national futsal team. Less than two years later, the FA has now abandoned this along with collapsing our men’s national teams. I cycle through various emotions when I think about the decision: anger, sadness, and frustration. The women’s game here has been growing rapidly thanks to the hard work of passionate coaches, players and clubs; but there’s no denying that having a national team would have accelerated this process significantly. However, I do want to stress that we still have a pathway for female players through our FA Futsal Women’s Super Series, and I would urge those feeling discouraged to not give up. Futsal is a wonderful sport to play, and the more players we attract, the harder it will be to ignore us.

Do you think there is still time to rectify the situation with the FA, or do you think it is time for English futsal to find another way to recognition it deserves?

I think it’s a little early to know. We have to keep our door open for any potential dialogue or U-turns, but right now there is reluctance from the FA to engage with us. All we can do is wait and see how the situation plays out over the coming weeks and months.

Thinking about women's futsal in general... What next step do you think has to happen, in order for women's futsal to grow and get the attention it deserves? Can you point to a country that has a good policy towards promotion of women's futsal?

From simple observation, it is clear to see that women’s futsal participation around the world is increasing. I think as more schools adopt futsal as part of their curriculum with player’s starting young, we will see the sport boom for women and girls. Many countries are doing a great job of committing to women’s futsal and nurturing its growth. Spain is one example. Kids play in school, and the Spanish Football Federation recently pledged 2 million euros for the top two women’s divisions over the next four years. Many players now forge professional careers in Spain and Italy, and it seems as though other countries will follow given a little more time.

And lastly, we are very happy to welcome you as a columnist on FutsalFeed. Can you give a bit of a teaser to our readers, what topics in general will you cover in your column, what can our readers expect?

Thank you. It’s an honour to contribute to FutsalFeed and I hope that I can shed some light upon women’s futsal both in England and internationally. It’s easier for me comment on issues in England, but I have met some fascinating people from around the world with brilliant futsal stories, so I will also be drawing upon their experiences and insight in my column.


That sums up this very informative interview with Leanne Skarratt. If we can wish for one thing from all this, it is that this article reaches as much girls and women as possible and encourages them to not give up on futsal no matter how hard things might seem!

Futsal is here to stay!