Portugal International Talks FUTURES Experience
Luisa Meza has travelled the world for events at the highest level whilst representing Portugal in beach soccer. Yet she was still amazed at the experience the FUTURES programme offers for players and coaches describing it as ‘a priceless experience.’
Meza grew up playing soccer in California and after college soccer went on to play in some of the world’s biggest clubs including Benfica and Manchester City. Later, she transitioned into beach soccer where she currently plays professionally and for Portugal, the country of her parents.
It was only recently that she discovered futsal and it was love at first sight. “I loved futsal. Loved the speed of the game. Loved how technical you have to be.”
But, even as someone with so much experience in similar sports, she recognised she had to learn and through coaching her passion for the game went to another level. “I learned more of the tactical bit and that’s when it really started to get fun. The tactics are so dynamic.”
For someone who has played at the highest level in soccer, she has no doubts about the transferrable skills. “The use of futsal to 11-a-side offers so much. You can’t hesitate to think why a club would not want to have futsal as part of the programme. Especially for young players to go through a lot of training in futsal would help in the 11-a-side game.
“It helps with a soccer player’s technical ability. In futsal you can’t have a bad touch. In soccer you can get away with it. It’s about being really comfortable in tight spaces and helps with your vision on the field. You have to be more aware because in soccer things don’t move as fast as futsal.”
With players now dedicating themselves to soccer all year around she also sees it as a way to avoid the risk of becoming disillusioned and unmotivated. Meza explained “I think having futsal during the soccer off-season gives the kids something to look forward to that isn’t soccer. I think it helps avoid burnout. It is great if the kids love to play futsal competitively but even just playing it recreationally to avoid burnout.”
Meza was one of the US Coaching Directors in the FUTURES Programme working alongside the professional futsal coaches whilst completing a coach education programme. “I am learning a lot with high level coaches. I’ve never learned from futsal specific coaches. I really like the coach education. We have technical practical sessions. I write notes and ideas down every night.”
There isn’t many who understand what travelling around the world with your sport can offer better than Meza. “Years from now they are going to remember the fun times they had with their friends. They are going to remember the whole experience which is really important.
“The main element is playing and training but also the cultural elements of hearing other languages and playing against players from different countries. Being a player myself, having these experiences as a kid you remember them. You remember these highlights of the trip for your life.”
Meza talks about how this will impact the players’ development and it goes far beyond the technical skills. “I have seen so much development in the kids over this week. Not just in their technical play but their confidence. It was awesome to see. I can only imagine what it will be like when they go back home. They will be very confident. Confidence is very hard to teach.
“They will have an advantage over any futsal play back in the US. Because of that confidence I mentioned. There is no way you can get that without being here.”
*ABOUT DOUG REED*
Doug Reed is a professional futsal player from England whose passion for the game has taken him across the world to report on top stories, and provide insights from someone inside. Visit his website at www.dougreedfutsal.com or follow him on social media via @DougReedFutsal.