SPORTCHECK: Futsal gaining widespread popularity
WITH football's hopes of being included in the Commonwealth Games looking slim at best, Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) president Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja'afar believes futsal would be the perfect substitute for the most popular sport on earth.
With widespread appeal on its side, Tunku Imran said the indoor sport would be an ideal addition to the Games due to its short period of play and the relatively low cost needed to host it in such competitions.
"African countries have long lobbied for football to be included as part of the Commonwealth Games, however, have not been successful," said Tunku Imran after officiating the launch of the Milo Hidup Bola Futsal Carnival at OCM Hotel yesterday.
"As the Games is only an 11-day affair it would not be long enough to host a football competition but futsal, due to its univerisality and short time period, is a good alternative."
Tunku Imran, who is also the Olympic Council of Malaysia president, added that in order to have the Games included, the sport's governing bodies which are the same as those for football, need to get it recognised by the Commonwealth Games Federation by further popularising futsal.
"I think that the people in football may not be placing enough emphasis on the sport (futsal) as they could.
"With proper marketing, futsal can be as big as any sport in the world as it already has a strong appeal.
"Through this, we can look at including it as part of the Commonwealth Youth Games which would be a good stepping stone to it being later added to the full Games."
Meanwhile, Tunku Imran said he was delighted with the increasing popularity that the Milo Hidup Bola Futsal Carnival had continued to enjoy over the years.
The under-12 and under-16 nationwide tournament, which is already in its eighth edition this year, has attracted a record 1,400 teams involving 11,000 junior players last year.
Organisers of the event are expecting a five to 10 per cent increase in participation this year with the event ready to accommodate up to 1,600 teams this season.
The competition, which offers a cash prize of RM15,000 in the form of account savings books for the overall winners, will kick off at state-level competition on March 9. The top 64 teams at state level will then qualify for the grand finals in Ampang, Selangor on July 7.
Teams interested in registering for the event can visit www.syoknyasukan.com for more information. By Fadhli Ishak