Hidden within the depths of the southern Netherlands, 21 of the best university teams from around Europe met to compete for the prestigious title of IUTT Champions 2008. For 24 years now the Eindhoven University of Technology has hosted the tournament for university futsal teams invited from all over the world to take part in a three-day marathon of the indoor five-a-side game.
The French, Polish, Portugese and Slovakians arrived as the leading teams from their respective countries and their dazzling play did not disappoint. Within this glittering field, representing England, the University of York was the surprise package of the tournament, beating several highly fancied teams on its way to a record eighth place finish.
Futsal is a game that is growing at rapid pace in the UK. From humble origins in Brazil, it has come to be regarded as the leading form of small-sided football worldwide. The heavy ball and tight spaces encourage the type of play for which Brazil has become famous; a combination of outrageous skills and quick and intelligent pass-and-move football – the beautiful game at its best.
York started slowly, taking a 4-0 drubbing in their first game. It was a harsh welcome to the level of competition; the players’ opposition in the York League providing inadequate preparation for matches against international standard players. They bounced back to defeat Portugese champions, Faculdade de Direito de Lisboa, then Poznan, the Polish national champions in two thrilling matches.
James Grey stood out for York and it was his scoring that propelled the team into the playoffs for fifth to eighth place. It was quite an achievement for the team, who were missing several key players throughout the tournament and suffering the loss of influential captain Jeroen Oomen for most of the second day’s play. Although the team eventually lost out to the Northern Cypriots and EMU Crows, Grey picked up the award for top goal-scorer, hitting thirteen goals in fourteen games.
York’s excellent showing at the tournament has earned the team several invitations to other inter-European tournaments and a newfound need for a trophy cabinet to accommodate for the club’s bright future.