October is set to be the month of futsal as the Oceania Football Confederation announced the first OFC Youth Futsal Tournament will be held at Bruce Pulman Arena in Auckland, New Zealand.
From 4-7 October, 12 U-18 teams from across Oceania will gather to take part in the men’s and women’s tournaments with the winners of each qualifying directly for the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games, where futsal will make its debut.
However, the two teams cannot be from the same Member Association so where a country has entered both the men’s and women’s events, the Member Association must nominate their preferred qualification team.
OFC Futsal and Beach Soccer Development Officer Paul Toohey said it is exciting times for the small-sided game.
“Many of our Member Associations have been incorporating futsal into their development programmes over the past few years and for some it is their first ever participation in international futsal competition.”
“So it’s a really great opportunity for all the young players and their coaches to display the skills they have acquired, with the added incentive of Youth Olympic Games qualification giving the teams a concrete reward to work towards,” Toohey said.
In the men’s tournament American Samoa, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu have entered.
For the women’s tournament the teams are New Caledonia, New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.
OFC Competitions Director Chris Kemp said OFC is excited to have this event on the calendar for 2017.
“We have seven teams confirmed for the men’s tournament and five for the women’s so we expect some exciting, competitive matches will be on the cards over the four days of competition,” he said.
Kemp explained the match schedules cater for the different number of participating teams with the men’s a straight round robin, while the women’s is a round robin with a 3rd Place Play-off and a Final.
“Given the uneven number of teams which have entered, we wanted to ensure that each of them got a maximum number of games,” he said.
The draw for the OFC Youth Futsal Tournament will be held at OFC Headquarters in Auckland on Friday 25 August.