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'Club futsal is top priority'
Friday, 01 July 2011 20:00
futsalwireDoha: Enhancing the development of club futsal is the priority of the Asian Football Confederation's (AFC) Futsal Committee and that will lead to the growth of the game on the continent, said its Chairman Richard K Lai.

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Doha: Enhancing the development of club futsal is the priority of the Asian Football Confederation's (AFC) Futsal Committee and that will lead to the growth of the game on the continent, said its Chairman Richard K Lai.

"The Second AFC Futsal Club Championship has been a great success and the overall level of teams has shown remarkable improvement," Lai told www.the-afc.com.

"When the club sides play well, that in turn helps the national teams.

In Iran and Japan, the national teams have benefited greatly from their Pro-Leagues.

The AFC wants to adopt Iran, Japan, Uzbekistan and Thailand as the role models to develop the game on the continent.

"Iran did a good job at the last World Cup in Brazil in 2008 and their performance proved that Asian futsal is scaling new heights.

We need to focus more on the clubs and that we believe is the best way to catch up with Europe and South America," said Lai.

Lai, who is also an AFC Executive Committee member, said there would be added emphasis on the West Asian countries.

"The Gulf countries, for example, have excellent facilities, but I doubt whether they're utilising it in the best way.

The extreme hot weather during this time of the year makes it difficult for teams to play football, but with the great facilities they possess, they can play futsal throughout the year and they should be doing that," he said.

Lai said the hard work put in by all at the AFC Futsal Department had contributed the game's growth, but added that barriers need to be broken for the game to attain the status it enjoys in Europe and South America.

"If you notice, football has been popular in Asia for more than a century while futsal has a history of just over a decade.

The very fact that we've organised only 11 Asian championships for national teams so far stands proof of that.

But we're working on ways to promote the game in schools and organise more number of youth tournaments.

We want to make the game more funny and spectator-friendly.

Futsal is steadily evolving and we, at FIFA, want to trigger the growth by making the necessary rule changes," said Lai, who is also a member of the FIFA Futsal and Beach Soccer Committee.