I want to start by saying a massive thank you to all the kids and parents who have helped grow Joga Futsal Academy in 2016. Your support is greatly appreciated and I look forward to working with you and all your kids again in 2017!
Our Joga Futsal Academy started up in January 2016 with one squad of boys – a mix of around 12 kids born 2005 and 2006 – in the one-hour slot at All Saint’s Secondary School. We played our first ever real match in late March against Futsal Escocia which was fantastic, and really was just the start of things to come. Since then, we have opened up new age groups and teams at different locations across the city. Our Academy now works with around 75 kids per week, each receiving one weekly training session and one match each week, now we have entered into leagues. We work with kids born from 2003 to 2008, all with different backgrounds and ability levels. Every week, we work with kids who are playing football in Elite Academies at the likes of Rangers, Celtic, St Mirren, Partick Thistle and more. We also work with kids who are playing in a host of boys clubs across the city. We have also been very fortunate to enter into partnerships with some fantastic clubs across Glasgow and the surrounding areas.
Our aim when beginning with Joga was to introduce Futsal to as many kids and coaches as possible, and show the benefit that it can have in developing their skills, ultimately helping them become better football players. We have certainly achieved that! The feedback we have had from parents and coaches has been fantastic, and most importantly, from the kids. On Sunday there I had a 2006 say to me: “I wish we could just play Futsal all day! It’s so much fun and I don’t even care what the scores are, it’s just so much fun playing in the games”. Just hearing kids talk amongst themselves, overhearing some of the positive things they say, is brilliant for me and always gives me a real sense of satisfaction that I am providing a fun and challenging environment, which I have no doubt will benefit their footballing career.
In the second part of the year, we also started up development centres which have also been a fantastic success; these provide an opportunity for kids to get an introduction to futsal and provide an extra training session for kids to develop their skills. They can offer this opportunity for kids who maybe can’t quite commit to the Academy teams, but can also provide a pathway into our Academy teams for kids who excel. These development centres see us work with over 40 kids – born from 2005 to 2009 – taking part in weekly futsal sessions.
Ultimately, in 2016 we have achieved more than I could ever have imagined. We have had some fantastic matches with Futsal Escocia in Fife. We have hosted our own 2007 festival, and had teams travel from as far as Carlisle. We won our first ever trophy when our 2006s won the Futsal Escocia Summer Cup. We travelled south to become the first ever kids futsal team to take on English opposition in England. We have had some fantastic games with Queens Park Youth sides, not to mention the number of kids we have worked with. We have just begun our Winter League, which has reached out to 50 teams! Currently, with our leagues and weekly sessions, we are working with between 500-600 kids every week purely in Futsal, which is for me amazing. We have achieved so much in 2016, and that makes for a very promising 2017 with some really exciting plans which I hope to announce towards the end of the month.
I would just like to finish off as I started by saying to a huge thank you to everyone who has helped Joga Futsal Academy grow in 2016. Parents – who I take my hat off to – your support really couldn’t be appreciated more! To Ger who has faithfully recorded our games in stills and video, which provides great memories for parents, kids and myself. Additionally, he designed our website. And thanks to my sister-in-law Lisa who, despite staying on the other side of the pond, has created our logo and all of our flyers. But lastly, and most importantly, thanks to all the kids who have attended our sessions over the past year. Thank you very much!!!
Look forward to seeing you all in 2017