The University of Winnipeg has embraced “the beautiful game.”
Saturday, athletic director Doran Read announced that the Wesmen would field both male and female teams for the 2010-11 season.
For the first season, both Wesmen teams will compete in the Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference (MCAC) with the intent of competing at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) level beginning with the 2011-2012 season.
Mick Gale was named head coach for both teams.
Both announcements came midway through a tournament to introduce the game of futsal, which was played on a field adjacent to the U of W Duckworth Centre.
The teams, made up of boys and girls 10-12 years of age, representing various World Cup countries, each played two games, with Argentina and Spain winning both their contests. Argentina won 5-0 over Brazil and 3-0 over England. Spain beat Portugal 9-2 in one game and dropped Netherlands 5-1 in the other.
Futsal is played between two teams of five players, one of whom is the goalkeeper. The rules create an emphasis on improvisation, creativity and technique as well as ball control and passing in small spaces.
Gale, who is the father of Manitoba Soccer Association technical director Rob Gale, comes with the necessary credentials.
He is currently a UEFA coach, having completed the latest youth levels in 2009 in Europe. He has worked extensively with scouting and player development at the national and international level.
Gale expects to give the University of Manitoba women’s team something to think about when the U of W moves to the CIS level for 2011-2012.
“We’re aiming to bring in some competition for them,” he said.
As far as their first year in the MCAC, Gale expects to win the title. “I’ve got kids coming in already from Europe. They’ve already signed for courses at the university, and I intend to make it really go right from the start.”
Gale played professionally with three English clubs from 1959-65 (Brighton, Crystal Palace and Fulham). In 1971 he accepted an offer to coach in New Zealand and from there he went to Zambia as a regional coach for three successful seasons, followed by a two-year stint in Tanzania.
Gale is very high on futsal. “It’s very quick, you gotta be fast on the ball and really on top of it. You also have to really be fit and the skill level is phenomenal.”
Gale hopes the sport will catch on here with the young people. “This where they learn it (the skills for the real game). This is the way they do it in South America. Especially the Brazilians and Chileans. Not so much in Europe. It’s good, but not so much.”
By Allan Besson
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 21, 2010 C8