oceaniafootball.com interviews Spanish futsal coach José Venancio López
World-renowned Spanish futsal coach José Venancio López wrapped up his visit to Oceania with the running of a coaching course in Auckland last week.
Thanks to a Memorandum of Understanding signed between OFC and the Royal Spanish Football Association in May 2011, López spent five days at the end of February in Solomon Islands to assist the national team in their preparations for the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2012 before heading to New Zealand.
His presence in Oceania is a boost to the development of futsal in the region as he has an impressive CV boasting three consecutive European titles and is one of the most highly-regarded futsal coaches of all time.
oceaniafootball.com sat down with López to get his thoughts on futsal in the Pacific and what he feels can be done to develop the code in this part of the world.
What have been your impressions of your Oceania experience?
It has been a positive experience and an intensive week of work. I worked with the national team of Solomon Islands to help them prepare for the FIFA Futsal World Cup, which will take place in Thailand in November. I have noticed a big motivation within the Solomon Islands Football Federation and the players. This work will improve the game as the team has real potential. It will be fruitful for the federation. Then I came to New Zealand after my visit to Solomon Islands and the course here has been fantastic. It has given the technical people a basis to work from and answered some of their queries.
What are your feelings about the Solomon Islands national team?
The mentality of the players is positive, and so is their unity. They have a strong capacity to try to improve their technical skills and the level of their physical abilities. The level is quite high and is even similar to other good teams in the world. They just need a better tactical understanding. They need more local and international competitions and to compete more outside their islands against teams of a higher quality. With these improvements, Solomon Islands would be able to reach the second round of the World Cup.
What do you think of the skills of the players in the Oceania region?
Each player has good physical and technical capacities. The only thing they need is to bring the individuals together well to play as a team. They need to play together, to train together. The agreement between OFC and the Spanish Football Association – through the decision of our president, Ángel María Villar – to assist OFC is an opportunity for the players in this region to benefit from a professional environment.
What do you need to play at a professional level?
Players need to start young. In Spain they start at just eight-years-old. The training is progressive. For instance, we start at the primary school level and then keep playing right through secondary school. Then you need to have a basic competition in place to develop the technical and tactical aspects of the players. The best football player development is through futsal.
The players here need to play outside of the Pacific. The inclusion of Solomon players in Spanish teams would help them to improve their level a lot. With this experience they would reach a higher level and be capable of integrating into a professional league. They would become the ambassadors of their country and help develop futsal in the Pacific region. We will start with Solomon Islands captain Elliot Ragomo and a couple of other players who could have the potential.
How does the Spanish association work to be successful in both futsal and football at the international level?
Twenty four years ago, President María Villar decided to introduce futsal and the sport has been developed step-by-step from there. Futsal and football competitions are organised the same. We have regional and national competitions which serve to increase player development. The development of fustsal with young players helps in the development of football when these youngsters go on to play 11-a-side.
Do you plan to return to Oceania?
Yes, it is an option. I have a really busy schedule but I would be pleased to come back. It is important to continue the training because it is the key to player development.
After your advice to the Solomon Islands team, could we see a Spain versus Solomon Islands match in a World Cup final?
We would first need to qualify and then if we are not in the same group, it could be possible (laughs).