Mumbai: India witnessed futsal for the first time as the inaugural season of Premier Futsal league kicked off on Friday with some of the most famous football players rubbing shoulders with some of the leading futsal players in the world.
Premier Futsal is a franchise-based tournament promoted by an entity formed by Indian entrepreneurs. Portuguese football legend Luis Figo is the president of the league while Indian cricket star Virat Kohli is ambassador. The five-a-side system is expected to attract more eyeballs than the more traditional formats earlier introduced.
Premier Futsal with thrilling pace, breathtaking skills, exciting format, world renowned stars like Ronaldinho, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Hernan Crespo, Michel Salgado, Falcao has the potential to take India by storm.
Some of the biggest names have rose up to ranks because of Futsal. Ronaldinho, Neymar, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo are some who played the five-a-side version of the game before becoming football players, according to this report by FIFA.com.
Brazilian Falcao, also known as 'Pele of Futsal', feels that Futsal has played a big role in the development of many Brazilian stars including Neymar.
"Neymar is a close friend and the crazy skills that we see him display on the field have all come from his futsal days. Not only Neymar, even players like Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Kaka have started out with futsal. In Brazil it is the first step and at the age of 12-13, you choose between football and futsal," Falcao was quoted as saying by The Times of India.
Barcelona star Neymar, who will be Brazil's mainstay at Rio Olympics which is set to start on 5 August, sent out a video message to his countryman Falcao, who is playing for Chennai 5's.
"Hey Falcao, The Legend! I'm here even by far, following Premier Futsal! I wish you all luck in the world. Congratulations to all of you! It's us. Thanks bro," the Barcelona star says in the video.
Here is the Neymar video posted on the Premier Futsal Twitter page
— Premier Futsal (@PremierFutsalHQ) July 18, 2016
From AIFF not sanctioning the league to Premier Futsal saying they don't need the governing body's permission as its a semi-professional league, its gone through a lot in quite a short time.
Despite facing problems, it promises to thrill viewers with Brazilian great Ronaldinho scoring five goals for Goa giving his side a 7-2 win over Scholes' Bengaluru on Sunday. The league will have a rest day on Monday after three days of non-stop action.