Next year, there will be two new teams sporting the famous dark blue strip for Oxford University Association Football Club (OUAFC), as both a Men’s and a Women’s Futsal Blues team enter the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) leagues.
Futsal has been a global sport for a few decades now, but only in the last ten years have British universities seriously established teams, with men’s sides competing in a total of 26 regional leagues, and women’s sides in a total of twelve, this season.
Futsal Cuppers is now an entrenched part of the Trinity Term sporting calendar; taking place from weeks one to four, all games are being played at Iffley this term between the hours of 13.00-16.00 on weekdays.
And this year the first inter-collegiate Futsal League was played during both Michaelmas and Hilary terms. St Anne’s men’s team won the competition, consisting of ten of Oxford’s finest footballing colleges, with a record of nine wins out of nine, just edging out New College and Pembroke who finished second and third respectively. With the Acer Nethercott Sports Hall offering a state-of-the-art venue for home games to be played at, it is no wonder that OUAFC have decided that now is the time to create the two teams.
Selecting enthusiastic players from Oxford’s various 11-a-side teams, alongside strong performers in the inaugural College Futsal League, two preliminary squads have been created to represent the university.
Ahead of their first official games in the autumn, both the Women’s and the Men’s teams took on Oxford Brookes in a friendly game at Iffley last weekend.
Although Brookes’ first Futsal season was in 2013, and they operate in the higher BUCS divisions, this didn’t seem to faze either of the Oxford sides.
In the first game of the day, the Women’s Blues were outstanding from the first minute. Dominating possession and creating clear-cut chances, by half time they had built up an apparently unassailable lead. Their dominance continued in the second half and Oxford ran out 11-4 winners in the end, a result that their fine performance merited. With Brookes’ Women’s team finishing third in the Midlands 2B League this year (the third division of four in the Midlands) and Oxford, as a newly created team, entering into the League below (Midlands 3A) next season, this is a very encouraging result and suggests that the Women’s Blues will be looking to fight for promotion straight away next season.
The men’s game was a closer-fought affair, with Brookes’ greater experience in Futsal tactics being combated by Oxford’s technical superiority on the ball. Some fine goalkeeping and clinical finishing ensured that Oxford constantly retained the lead, much to the frustration of the Brookes players, who launched into some questionable challenges. Once the full-time whistle had blown though, Oxford had secured a fantastic 8-3 triumph.
Even more striking than with the women’s game, the Oxford Brookes team competed in the Midlands 1A League this season (the top division out of six for men’s teams) whereas the Oxford team will have to start off next season in the Midlands 4A League, five divisions below.
This is a very promising result for Oxford and will give a huge amount of confidence going into the futsal club’s inaugural competitive season.
In regards to the creation of the Futsal teams, OUAFC President Alex Guzel commented that he was “hugely excited about adding another two teams to the football club, allowing even more people to competitively represent our university which, for me, is the greatest honour you can have.
“It’s great that we will compete in one of the fastest growing indoor sports in the world and beating two teams that compete in high BUCS leagues is a great start.”
For the University of Oxford, and the sport of Futsal, the future looks very bright indeed.