First of all, to everyone involved with Manchester Futsal and the wider community, I hope you are well and keeping safe during these uncertain times.
Although the sporting season has been cut short by the Covid-19 outbreak, the women's side have enjoyed another fruitful campaign, having being stopped in their tracks while seemingly on their way to another first place finish in the women's north division, and just one point off making the national play-offs.
We decided that these achievements couldn't go under the radar at Manchester Futsal, so we caught up with Women's Co-ordinator Leanne Skarratt who have us an insight into how the season unfolded.
Obviously an unprecedented time for everyone, it must be frustrating having the season cut short considering the position you were in?
"Yes, absolutely - and I'd like to start by wishing everyone in our futsal family and the wider community well during these challenging times for us all. The health and safety of everyone must be the priority right now. From a futsal perspective, it is hard not to feel a little frustrated and sad that our season was derailed prematurely. Going into the last game of our FA Futsal Women's Super Series North game, we needed only 1 point to make the national playoffs. That's always going to be painful for the players and staff who have worked so hard all season. Although we had a disappointing exit from the FA Futsal Cup, defending our league title was still up for grabs".
What were some of your glowing highlights from this season?
"I think we had a couple of impressive comebacks this season in tough games. We managed to hang on to top spot despite having to fight back from behind in a few games - so I have been particularly proud of the mental fortitude and resilience the have team displayed on numerous occasions. When you are the national champions, naturally, opponents are going to raise their game another notch to try to beat you. It's always harder to defend a title than it is to win it the first time, but I think our game management has been very good".
In terms of the youth development and the younger sides, has this year been crucial in seeing those grow? Do you have any burning ambitions for next season?
"I have been really excited this year to see how many young girls we have managed to engage via our FA Wildcats futsal sessions. When we started them up initially last June, it was hard-going to begin with. You do a lot of promotion and try to sell the sport, but you don't always get the numbers straight away. It took a little bit of time and patience, but we now have approximately 16-18 players aged 8-12 showing up each Friday evening for our sessions. When circumstances allow us to return, we will be starting sessions for girls aged 13-16. I would love to see as many young female players as possible enjoying our wonderful sport".
Looking towards the future when we're all allowed out again (!), how are you preparing for next year?
“Right now, I think it's more about keeping the morale up. As well as being teammates, we are all great friends, so we have been doing twice-weekly HIIT sessions on Zoom lead by Kempy which has been awesome to keep us all in shape. We are also doing quiz nights and checking in with each other as much as we can. There is only so much preparation these circumstances allow for, so I think it's important for us to keep it light and fun.”
While very much a period of frustration for everyone involved in sport, we can't wait to see what the future holds for the women's side and the younger girls getting involved. As a club, we wish everyone the very best.