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Leal’s futsal foundations driving Brazil’s U-17 World Cup bid

New Delhi, Nov 8 (IANS) As Brazil prepare to make their bow at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Indonesia 2023 on Saturday, another member of their camp who drew inspiration from the futsal courts will be hoping to make his mark. Phelipe Leal the 36-year-old tactician has laid down meticulous plans to try and get the most out of his squad, taking lessons from futsal.

What Leal has gained from the five-a-side sport is not only training methods, but above all else the experience of cultivating essential relationships to train young footballers, with and without the ball.

“People know that in Brazil everything starts with futsal,” Leal told FIFA. “Like street football in the past, it’s extremely important for the player’s overall development, not only the technical side, but personal relationships too.

“You are in very close contact with the families. This enabled me to develop skills that are essential today in building a trusting relationship with the players. In my opinion, trying to develop players while ignoring the emotional side is a big mistake. Futsal gave me this opportunity given the context as the games were almost always played at night with the parents close by.”

Leal began working in futsal at Fluminense, when he was still at university. He was involved in the sport for four years, until he started going to the matches of CFZ, the club created by the legendary Zico. In 2014, 11-a-side football became his main focus, and he landed his first role as head coach with Botafogo’s youth team.

Nevertheless, he could not let go of futsal completely. “In Brazil things are tough, especially at youth level,” Leal said. “Although I was a head coach at the time, I often needed to supplement my income with other jobs. It was tiring given the demands on my time, but it was an excellent learning experience for me and gave me a good grounding.”

The coach steadily began to rise up the ranks. He worked for Flamengo and was recruited as assistant coach to Guilherme Dalla Dea as Brazil won the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2019 on home soil. He went on to work alongside Dalla Dea for Guangzhou’s youth team in China PR for a further 18 months.

When he returned to Brazil, he was asked to take charge of Brazil’s U-17 team by Branco, the 1994 World Cup winning full-back and head of the youth setup at the CBF.

Over this four-year period, what has made the biggest impression on Leal that he tries to transmit to the current generation? “Without doubt, the spirit of togetherness we have had,” he said.

“This togetherness allows each individual to strengthen the squad as a whole, and we end up reaping the benefits. The more united we are, the more each individual can be himself and express himself on the pitch, having the confidence that things will work out.

“It’s the message I try to pass onto them: that all the sacrifices are worth it, because we are living a dream. A dream that nobody forced on us.”



Indian Abroad News Desk
Indian Abroad News Desk
Indian Abroad is a news channel and fortnightly newspaper meant for Australia’s Indian community and, besides news, focuses on lifestyle subjects like health, travel, culture, arts, beauty, fashion, entertainment, Bollywood, etc. Our YouTube channel here features daily news bulletins besides infotainment videos on lifestyle subjects.

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