Cohen looks for top talent for Maccabi futsal squad

By Danny Caro, October 11, 2011
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Jonny Cohen has talked about his vision for the fast-growing sport of futsal after the Maccabi team were awarded a place in the National Futsal League for the first time.

Cohen led Team GB to bronze at the European Maccabi Games in Vienna and he believes that the move could boost medal hopes ahead of the 2013 Maccabiah.

“It’s fantastic news,” said Cohen. “The fact that we have been given an opportunity to represent the community in a national league is very exciting.

"I'm sure there will be hundreds of players from across the MSFL and MJSL who will want to experience this."

As part of the Maccabi GB new sports development plan, the Maccabi Futsal team will line up in the newly-formed second division in a league that gets under way in January.

Matches will be played over five one-day tournaments taking place on Sunday afternoons with each team playing four matches in every round.

Maccabi will line-up against the University of Plymouth FC, FC Gloucester, Reading FC and FC Kaunas.

Cohen said: "I’m looking to put together a squad of 20 players although this is not the Maccabiah squad.

"I want to take 12 players on matchdays, although we have no idea of the quality of our opposition.”

Speaking about his futsal vision, Cohen said: “I want to have a Maccabi team in the national league competing for major honours. Also, to have Maccabi players representing England in a sport would also be something special. Finally, I want the GB team to go to a Maccabiah with genuine medal hopes.”

Cohen’s first experience of futsal came at the 2009 Maccabiah. Following GB’s disappointing performance in Israel, a group of people, including Cohen, got together and drafted in Brazilian-born coach James Rosa who taught them the basics of how to defend.

He recalled how he watched in awe at the skill levels of the Brazilian and Argentinian teams. "It was jaw-dropping," he said. "I was in awe of them."

Cohen said: “Futsal is a developing sport in this country. Traditionally we have fared badly at the Maccabiahs because the players know very little about the game. It’s a high-energy sport.

“To understand how to play modern day football, you would have to understand modern day futsal. It’s about speed, technique and playing in boxes of four on a pitch. You also have roll-on subs so it is important to get them right.

“Futsal is the ultimate team sport. You have four outfield players so if one is not functioning properly, then 25 per cent of your team is not functioning properly. You also have roll-on subs so it is important to get them right.

“It is based on the Barcelona model. Players such as Xavi and Iniesta grew up playing futsal. The best English players lack a technical edge and the control of the ball lets them down.

“Physique is not vital in futsal as there is room for players of every size. A good player must show technical ability, the ability to take on instructions, have character and the ability to be a team player.

The GB Open Futsal squad won the UJIA Team of the Year at the recent Maccabi GB Sports Awards. "I was so proud of this amazing accolade. I am hugely proud of all the team. Everyone single person in the team deserves this award.

"I am really determined that this award marks the start of a golden era in MGB Futsal. We are already back playing Futsal and I am delighted that the entire squad are so genuinely excited to continue to pursue this wonderful sport just for the sheer joy of it.

“I have a group of boys who are champing at the bit to keep playing futsal. They formed a great bond and are of the mentality that they are willing to die for one another on the pitch.”

Maccabi sent a squad to play against Team Bath last weekend. The head coach of the England National Futsal Development Team (England B) was among the crowd.

Cohen said: “The MSFL were extremely helpful in releasing players for the match."

Cohen's ultimate dream is to see a Jewish player selected for the England national futsal team. "It would be incredible for our community to be represented at that level."

The Maccabi Futsal team is holding two recruitment dates. Trials will be held on October 23 and 30 at Parmiters School in Garston from 4-6pm.

For details about the futsal trials, email: enquiries@maccabigb.org

    Last updated: 4:19pm, October 11 2011