Having had a look back over the season to see how both the women's and the men's teams faired, we wanted to provide our fanbase with a bit of clarity during these unsettling times. We decided to catch up with club chairman Simon Wright who gave us his view on the present circumstances, as well as how the teams performed during the season gone by.
Obviously an unprecedented time for everyone involved with sport - have you any thoughts on the current situation and how it affects the club?
Firstly, I'd like to start by saying that I hope all of our Manchester Futsal Club community and the wider English Futsal community, the other futsal clubs and all of our supporters are doing their best to stay safe and remaining positive about getting beyond this incredibly challenging period we're all facing right now. Our collective health and well-being has to be the priority right now.
As a club we're doing our upmost to remain connected on all levels, and currently I don't think we're looking too far ahead, just taking each week as it comes, following the guidance locally from Manchester FA and of course The FA National Futsal Series and National Futsal League.
Our first priority was to ensure we could minimise any risks to players and staff, some of which were returning home following the shutdown of all competitions. Secondly, we had to immediately assess the financial implications on closing all of the club's day to day operations down like the youth academy, as well as the loss of some match day revenue. To compensate for this impact we applied to the Sport England Community Relief Fund to enable us to be in a position to stabilise the club and ensure we're ready to return to full capacity when that moment arrives. We're really grateful that Sport England supported our on-going work in delivering community sport provision across Greater Manchester which will be needed even more that is for sure.
Right now we're focussed on staying in touch with our members and supporters, trying to adapt by utilising digital means of communicating, whether it be on-line tutorials for the young players, quizzes or virtual fitness sessions with players and more recently launching MFC Hangout and inviting our players to speak to one another and the fans via Instagram. All of this is helping us stay connected and support each other when the bond of futsal is missing from our daily lives.
Although the season was unfortunately cut short, both sides of the club enjoyed fantastic campaigns. How do you feel the season played out?
Whilst it's obviously hard to make conclusive judgements on the performance side of the season for all of our teams, when all competition has been brought to a halt, I do feel once again we've been competitive and progressive as a club. We've blended new players, introduced talented youngsters and allowed Sergi and his support staff to build a greater depth of understanding across the squads to align with the way he wants them to play. The Women's Team have fought hard to keep their momentum on the back of an exceptional and historic 18/19 season and were in the driving seat this season in the league. I know all of the players and staff were feeling confident and up for a really purposeful run-in of the league and cup competitions, so the timing of the shutdown was frustrating in some senses, but of course it was taken out of our hands.
With the foundations being layed in relation to youth development, as well as newly established programmes for the girls' youth team, how exciting is it to see this part of the club develop?
Away from the performance side of the club the exciting journey we're on in developing our youth programme for boys and girls has taken further positive strides forwards. New satellite clubs across Greater Manchester have emerged and established quickly thanks to the great work our youth coaches have delivered over the course of the last 12 months. We now have even more presence on a community level and every week we're bringing new players into contact with futsal and the club. That's always really satisfying to see, and remains central to our growth and development of the youth to senior pathways we have underpinning the club.
The senior team remained very competitive until the cut off point. Looking back on their season, what are some of your highlights?
I think the main highlight's that really stick out for me were the two FANFS events that we staged in Manchester, really because we connected up all areas of the club and our wider stakeholders under one roof to be part of two exceptional events. Granted we would have wanted many more of these opportunities this season as I know our fans and players have been neglected of more games in Manchester. We all want to play in front of our fans, none more so than myself.
Another very bright moment came with the 4-2 victory over Helvecia in our last game in the FANFS. It's a pivotal moment because I think it helps set the tone for where this squad goes forwards now. The seniors were very close to Helvecia and Pro Futsal this season with a very young side with so much potential. Psychologically, it was a big plus for these young players and their development.
Lastly, how are you preparing for next season and a possible eventuality of no futsal?
It's really hard to get a sense of when and how the next season will arrive, we really don't know at this stage. It gives the club a moment to pause and focus on where changes can be made or brought forwards to help our position in the future. Planning, debating, making some tweaks and improvements will ensure we're ready for our next challenge on and off the court. The time away to reflect makes you more optimistic about the journey ahead.
Until that moment comes and we see everyone again, I just want to thank everyone for their support this year including our fantastic sponsors MH Goals and Umbro, as well as really huge thank all of the wonderful staff across the club who always go above and beyond every week to keep the club moving forwards.
We'll be back together soon, stay safe.