Futsal Focus talks with the FA National Futsal Leagues only Female coach Luciana De Martin Silva Head Coach of Gloucester Futsal Revolution
We have yet to see a woman take the reins of a professional Football club in the top tiers of English Football therefore it was great to see that this development has taken place already in English Futsal. Gloucester Futsal Revolution are the Futsal club developed by Conference North member Gloucester Athletic Football Club. Learning about Luciana’s success as a Futsal player and coach here in England we were eager to find out more about her and this is what she had to say;
I came to England from Brazil in 2004 and my journey started with a dream of mine to play in Europe. I wrote to many Football and Futsal clubs and after 7 months I was offered a place and scholarship with Keynsham Town LFC. I love life here so I decided to stay and pursue a Masters in Sports Coaching which I gained from the University of Bath in 2007.
My love for both Football and Futsal goes back as far as I can remember. I have played Futsal for 15 years and this included first division teams in Brazil such as Cruzeiro Esporte Clube (Belo Horizonte) where I won two state championships (2000 and 2001). More recently in 2010 I played Futsal for TeamBath and we won the FA Futsal Cup, I also had the pleasure to play with great players helping me to be the top scorer in the competition with 14 goals and I was presented with the top goal scorer trophy. My Futsal career took place alongside my Football career in which I was a World Champion playing for Brazil in the World University Games (2001 - China), BUSA champion (British Universities Sports Association – University of Bath, 2005) and winning the Minas Gerais state championship three times when playing for Cruzeiro Esporte Clube and Gremio Futebol Clube (Brazil).
I have always been passionate about Futsal but my coaching experience varied from coaching school representative teams whilst being a PE teacher in Brazil and Women's Futsal Clubs. Here in England I am not only the head coach of Gloucester Futsal Revolution but the coach of Hartpury College Women's Futsal in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) and FA Cup competitions. I believe that my experience as a Football Coach has also contributed to developing my Futsal coaching this is especially the case when talking about the pedagogical and social aspects of coaching. My playing experience allied to formal Futsal courses that I have attended has also contributed to the development of my technical and tactical knowledge, however, I always feel that there is so much more to learn and this inspires me to keep seeking new challenges! My role with Gloucester Futsal Revolution originated from my desire to coach and hopefully contribute to the development of the game in England!!
I knew that Gloucester Futsal had a team in the FA National Futsal League and I really wanted to get involved in their set up, this was when I approached one of my colleagues at Hartpury College where I work as a Lecturer in Sports Coaching to find out about the club. Coincidently he mentioned that the club was going through a transition phase and could benefit from my experience and involvement. Therefore I was quick to contact Jim Hart and speak to him about my interest. Jim came to Hartpury and after a two hour conversation I just knew that it would be an ideal opportunity for me to not only share my experience in the game but also to challenge myself to work in an environment that is dominated by males coaches. Jim has certainly been a big part of my involvement in the club since day one and he has always shown his support and belief in my coaching ability and I thank him for that.
Have you ever felt that you have been treated differently by opposition coaches or players because you are a woman? This is an interesting question as I believed I had to prove myself since day one in order to gain the respect I needed from the players. This was not due to the player’s behavior but due to my perceptions regarding how some players could react to having a female coach. So initially I felt I had a point to prove around planning the sessions and interacting with the players in ways to show them that I have the essential knowledge to develop the squad further. For example, I remember in one of my first sessions when one of the player disagreed with one of my points during a session on techniques adopted when defending. I was quick to demonstrate my point, choosing one of the best players in the team I challenged him to try and steal the ball from me whilst I used the technique I had just spoken about. Luckily, it went to plan and I felt I had proved my point. I don’t feel I have been treated differently by the opposition or players but again their perception may be different. Currently, I feel I have developed good working relationships with my squad which has certainly been essential for my job as their coach!
The main benefit for me coaching in the FA National Futsal League is obviously having the opportunity to coach at the highest level of Futsal here in England plus it gives me the chance to be able to contribute to the development of the game, seeing players progressing on a weekly basis and being able to also develop myself as a person and as a coach and learn from them. The coaching challenges come when not being able to always rely on players due to other commitments such as work. Unfortunately at this development stage of the game and the lack of awareness it is not easy to secure the financial support needed however, positive steps are being made and hopefully this situation will change for the clubs in the near future.
What is your own future development plans for your career? Would you like to coach at a professional Futsal club? How would you like to see Futsal develop in England? I have always enjoyed the practical and theoretical facets of coaching, as I pointed out earlier I am a lecturer in Sports Coaching at Hartpury and alongside educating future coaches I am in the third year of my PhD which I am developing at Cardiff Metropolitan University. My plan is to concentrate on finishing the PhD whilst also taking Futsal to the next level! I am very committed and passionate about coaching Futsal and I would really like to see a more structured approach here in England e.g. funding allocated to clubs to provide a stronger base for further development of the FA National Futsal League. Another aspect that I believe needs to be looked at is the development of a Women's National Futsal League and a National team as there are many players out there who could make the country very proud!