Author: Paddy Finnemore
If you are a follower of futsal in England you are no stranger to the ups and downs in the development of the sport. In what has been a turbulent season for Derby Futsal Club, Matt Hardy, Sam Huntingdon, Matt Richardson and Hannah Roberts reveal how the club is now in the strongest position it has ever been.
On the court and in terms of results the men and women teams followed opposing timelines. The men went 3 months unbeaten in the inaugural FA National Futsal Series Tier 2 North, but stuttered towards the end. On the flip side, the women ended their FA National Futsal Women’s Super Series scoring goals for fun and strengthened the team with key signings.
Matt Hardy, Derby Futsal Club Chairman, shared his thoughts of the season as a whole on and off the court:
“On the court we had a relatively successful season for a squad that continues to evolve each year. We were very competitive and felt like we were in a good position across the course of the campaign to battle for promotion.”
Hardy admitted that it has been a challenging year, not just getting to grips with the new format of NFS, but also personally. Hardy was faced with a four month futsal ban following an FA charge, which came at the most crucial time of the season – in the lead up to Derby’s home matchday, Christmas, and the January transfer window.
“I was really proud of how Sam (Huntingdon) and the lads battled through with the new format we experienced in the NFS and some of the off court challenges we faced as a club. It has been a difficult year and one we had to work hard to firstly consolidate the position we were in as a club and then lay the foundations on what we have begun to develop since Christmas time.”
In Hardy’s absence the players, volunteer staff, and fans came together to drive the club through one of it’s most difficult periods of recent times. “In my absence, people rallied and the shoots of a really talented, enthusiastic club management started to emerge. Upon my return we were able to expand and bring in an academy director in Carl Bruiners and immediately began building for a much stronger and sustainable Derby Futsal Club as we move forward.”
Player and Coach, Sam Huntingdon who has been a key figure at Derby Futsal since its inception, making 63 appearances and being the highest scorer in Derby Futsal Club history with 82 goals, spoke about how well the team did on the court:
“We had a really good season. We made a fantastic start to the season against Durham and continued in that vein all the way up to our home round against Cheshire, to which I felt that we were very unfortunate to lose.” Had it not been for the pandemic’s early ending of the season Huntingdon had confidence his side could go all the way to the top, “I felt we were title contenders all the way through the season, but of course the season came to a premature end due to Covid-19”.
For the women’s team, this is only their second year of competitive national futsal, and was always going to be a season of bedding in and developing. Come the end of the season, team captain and Players’ Player of the Year, Hannah Roberts was starting to see the shoots of success:
“The season has been difficult in many ways. We struggled to get a stable squad for each game and our results suffered because of it. My highlight of the season was the 5-5 draw against Bedford, we should have won but tiredness caught up in the end, but I was so proud of us that day.”
Current two time golden boot winner and Scotland international Matt Richardson scored goals that were vital as he helped lead the team to a high position in the league. Richardson is always looking for ways he can push the team on, and has set himself some achievable objectives for the season ahead:
“My aims for next season are to continue to gain experience with training and playing for the Scotland National team. To try and make it three seasons in a row as the top goalscorer and to better myself as a role model within the club.”
This season may have been challenging, but has certainly been a positive one, on the court Huntingdon and his team continually impressed and scored some high quality goals (just check out the goal of the season nominations!), Roberts and her teammates have an incredibly strong core, and off the court a ten strong committee drives the club forward in the right direction. Sam Huntingdon is excited for next season and feels the club has made the most of the global downtime:
“The club has used the off court time really effectively. We’ve launched our academy, brought in more members of our committee and recruited once more allowing us to now have a stronger first team and a strong development team.”
Stay tuned to the Derby Futsal Club social channels as we will bring you a low down on the exciting plans for next season…