YOUNGSTERS playing a game that has helped hone the skills of some of the world’s greatest footballers are celebrating a windfall of nearly £5,000.
The money from the Community Chest fund set up by housing association Cartrefi Conwy has been awarded to Kinmel Bay Football Club to develop futsal, a fast moving game played by boys, girls and adults.
Soccer greats like Pele, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo started playing futsal as youngsters on sandy beaches, playing with a smaller ball that helped develop their amazing dribbling skills.
Kinmel Bay Football Club has 30 players taking part in futsal which is similar to five a side, using hockey sized goals and a smaller ball weighted to reduce bounce.
The game is played worldwide and the club has just played friendly games against touring Australian teams.
Club chairman Bill Darwin, a Kinmel Bay town and county councillor said the Cartrefi Conwy Community Chest grant of £4,929 has enabled the club to mark out a futsal pitch within Y Morfa Leisure Centre’s main hall, and buy futsal goals and balls.
The next step is to develop the multiuse games area so youngsters can use it to play futsal.
Cartrefi Conwy manage the nearby Chester Avenue estate where many of the players live.
Director of Operations Gwynne Jones said: “I really am thrilled Cartrefi Conwy has been able to support this futsal initiative. Kinmel Bay Football Club is doing a wonderful job engaging with local young people, many of whom live on our Chester Avenue estate.
“Youngsters are getting behind the club and enjoying playing an active sport which is both inspiring and giving them self-confidence. And of course the health benefits are enormous too.
“I know Bill Darwin and everyone at Kinmel Bay Football Club are keen to develop their futsal teams and I’m thrilled today to welcome the visiting Australian futsal teams to Conwy.
Mr Darwin said: “We are absolutely thrilled with the support from Cartrefi Conwy and their Community Chest grant as it means a great deal to the club and all our young players.
“It’s really all about getting kids off the street and playing sport. And it’s not all about elite kids but youngsters of all levels and abilities.
“We know futsal will enhance the technical side of the game and build the skill levels of our players. And whereas a full sized game needs 11 players on each side, futsal can be enjoyed by small peer groups making it easier to arrange games.”
Kinmel Bay Football Club players, Amy Chesters and Chelsea Tilley, both 15 and both pupils of Ysgol Emrys, Abergele, said they really enjoy futsal.
Amy, from Pensarn, near Abergele, said: “I love it and play every Friday. It’s helped me get fitter and helped me play normal football as I’ve learned to control the ball much better as it’s so much faster.
“We are hoping to join a futsal league. It’s definitely made me a better footballer. Having the pitch laid out here in Y Morfa Leisure Centre is brilliant and means we can enjoy playing.”
Chelsea, who lives in Rhyl, said futsal has really improved her ball skills and made her a better player.
“Like Amy I play for the Kinmel Bay Girls Under 16 side and having a proper pitch to play on and the right goals and ball mean a lot and makes it a proper game.”
Barry Griffiths, a member of the Y Morfa Leisure Centre, Kinmel Bay management committee, said once the main sports hall is marked up for futsal the next task is to use the remaining money to include a futsal pitch on the outside multi use games area which would benefit even more young players.
He said: “It’s great to see how the sport is developing and how many local youngsters are getting involved. It builds players and teaches young players self-esteem and respect.
“Kinmel Bay is an area in need of help and a leg-up and what the football club is doing, thanks to the Cartrefi Conwy Community Chest grant, is wonderful news for the football club and the community in general.”
Corry Smith, coach of the Australia Schools Futsal Squad said the players and coaches had thoroughly enjoyed playing a few games at Kinmel Bay.
“Futsal is a great way to learn ball skills and improve fitness levels and I have been impressed with the standard of the Kinmel Bay players.”