- Lia Lewis, World Champion Freestyle footballer, hosted the surprise session at St. George’s Park
- The footballers showed off skills including the flip-flap, tight dribble and drag back
- Junior futsal players from Coventry United under-10 girls and Kingsley under-10 boys were the delighted recipients of the surprise masterclass
England superstars Phil Foden, Emile Smith Rowe and Conor Gallagher gave local junior futsal players the surprise of a lifetime when they interrupted their Pokémon Futsal session at St George’s Park to provide a unique skills demonstration and take part in an intimate Q&A.
In the Pokémon Futsal masterclass hosted by 2021 Football Freestyle World Champion, Lia Lewis, futsal players from local teams Coventry United under-10 girls and Kingsley under-10 boys were stunned when their session was interrupted by members of the Three Lions squad.
All known for their silky skills and superb footwork, the England trio taught the children three fundamental futsal skills that would help improve their futsal abilities.
Conor Gallagher was first to display his skill showcasing the iconic ‘Flip-Flap’ which involves rapidly moving the ball from one side to the other using both the inside and outside of the foot. Phil Foden, who spent time playing futsal in his youth, displayed his trademark tight dribbling skills before Emile Smith Rowe performed a flawless drag back turn to the delight of the watching children. Under the watchful eye of the players, the children took to the floor to put their lesson into action, with more than one showing the calibre of talent that could have them earmarked as future England stars themselves.
Following the session, the potential future World Cup stars took part in a Q&A with Lia and the junior futsal stars.
When asked who has the best attacking moves in the England squad, Emile Smith Rowe, said: “I would probably go with Raheem Sterling, I like the way he plays!”
Conor Gallagher lauded his teammate Foden for his talents on the ball, saying: “Phil is definitely one of the most skilful players I’ve ever played with in my career.” Adding that Smith-Rowe and fellow squad members Bukayo Saka and Jack Grealish also show great flair on the pitch. When asked about the benefit of Futsal, England winger Phil Foden, said: “I always played in futsal tournaments when I was younger. When you go into 11-a-side football, it [futsal] helps you a lot, technically.”
Following the successful event Peter Murphy, Senior Director of Marketing at the Pokémon Company International, commented: “We’ve seen some great performances in the Pokémon Futsal Youth Cup this season, so it was great to reward some of the participants with a masterclass from such esteemed skilful players. I’m sure that this will be an invaluable experience for the children taking part and will inspire them to try these newfound abilities on the pitch. “As we head towards the regional finals of the Pokémon Futsal Youth Cup, we’re excited to see these skills in action and observe the progress that will be made by all of those who have signed up.”
Stephen Hutchison, Head of Commercial Partnerships at the FA added: “We’re delighted to be able to offer this opportunity to the junior players as a result of our partnership with Pokémon for the FA’s Youth Futsal Programme. It was great to see how much the players enjoyed interacting with the children and passing on valuable futsal skills. We’re excited to see how the masterclass helps to improve the players on the futsal pitch in the coming months.”
Laurence Woodroffe, Coach of Coventry U-10, said: “We want to thank Pokémon and the FA for putting on such a magical day for the children. To have Phil, Emile and Conor come down to lead a surprise masterclass really was the cherry on top. We will be cheering them on this November and look forward to putting their advice into action at the regional finals of the Pokémon Futsal Youth Cup.”
Thomas Harris, Coach of Kingsley under-10 boys, added: "Futsal is a brilliant way for our junior teams to develop their skillset and being invited to St. George’s Park it was a treat in itself. We will use this experience to grow as a team and improve our futsal ability."
Futsal is an exciting, fast-paced form of the game that originates in South America; several world stars have roots in the game. Played on hard pitches with small-sided teams, futsal places emphasis on technical skill in restricted spaces and creates an environment that allows young people to simulate and develop many skills and proficiencies that are transferrable to the 11-a-side game. The partnership works to encourage children of all abilities to play futsal and develop their skills in a fun and supportive environment.
Pokémon is the title partner of the FA’s Youth Futsal Programme which aims to work with boys and girls aged eight–sixteen. Alongside the Pokémon Futsal initiative in schools, youth football clubs across the country have taken part in this season’s Pokémon Youth Futsal Cup by England Football, which kicked off in November last year and is now at the regional finals stage ahead of its culmination at the national finals this June.
To find out more about the progress of this season’s Pokémon Youth Futsal Cup head to https://www.mastertheball.com/
The Pokémon Company International, a subsidiary of The Pokémon Company in Japan, manages the property outside of Asia and is responsible for brand management, licensing, marketing, the Pokémon Trading Card Game, the animated TV series, home entertainment and the official Pokémon website. Pokémon was launched in Japan in 1996 and today is one of the most popular children’s entertainment properties in the world. For more information, please visit www.pokemon.co.uk.
About The Football Association
The Football Association [The FA] is the not-for-profit governing body of football in England. It is responsible for promoting and developing every level of the game, from grassroots through to the professional game, and successfully generates enough revenue to support investment of over £150m into English football each year. The FA oversees England international teams across men’s, women’s, youth and disability football, as well as running The National League System and FA Competitions including the Emirates FA Cup and Vitality Women's FA Cup, and the world-class facilities of Wembley Stadium and St. George’s Park, all with a purpose to Unite the Game and Inspire the Nation.