Luis Figo, the President of the world's most watched futsal league, India's Premier Futsal, has burnished the reputation of the sport as one that helps budding footballers hone in technical skill, as he experienced first hand during his childhood.
The 44 year-old Portuguese legend interacted exclusively with Goal, on the sidelines of the launch of Premier Futsal's second season, slated for a July kick-off. The management also unveiled its futsal scouting program, LaunchPad. The event, held at a hotel in the Indian capital of New Delhi on Thursday, 9th March, was graced by Manchester United icon Ryan Giggs and the world's best futsal player Alessandro Rosa Vieira, better known as just Falcão.
Figo was in high spirits following the unveiling of the program, founded by Abhinandan Balasubramanian, Nithyashree Subban and Dinesh Raj, and spoke about how he the management intended scale up the impression it made in the first season.
"I think we need to establish the concept and the brand to promote it to different channels and make the public aware of it," expressed the Real Madrid icon, before adding, "We need to continue to work on the tournament because it is a new project and it needs time to consolidate and achieve what we are aiming for."
The former Barcelona mdfielder was candid enough to admit what convinced players like Giggs and his fomrer teammate Michel Salgado to join the bandwagon in 2016. "They’re all friends. So, they are always available for a chat."
He stated far more seriously, "I think it is easy because they also like the sport and it is a new challenge for them too. The difficulty was not in convincing them but in organising the tournament. The schedule and dates are not available for everyone always."
Asked to elucidate the importance of futsal in the life of a footballer, Figo channeled the experiences of his youth and opined, "I used to play Futsal when I started playing football as well. I think it helped me develop my dribbling skills and technique. When I moved to 11-a-side football, the game is different but I can say that my passion for the game started with Futsal. So, I can identify with this sport and some of the biggest names in football also started by playing Futsal. "
Finally, the ex-Inter Milan medio was certain the influences of Portuguese coaches in Indian football will bring positive rewards to the nation's football faithful and hopeful. Presently, Nelo Vingada, the 2016 head coach of NorthEast United in the Indian Super League (ISL) is one he referred to.
"I think it is good that you are bringing in good coaches to develop football. There is a good generation of coaches coming up in Portugal. Nelo Vingada was my coach in the national team when I was young," he concluded.