3 teams from Devon were amongst the winners at the The FA Pokemon Youth Futsal Cup South West Finals at Paignton Academy on March 14/15th - the last football weekend prior to the suspension. Teams had qualified for this stage via their Counties, 200 teams from Devon alone had entered the initial rounds in the Autumn, and the winners from the Devon Finals in January now took on those from Cornwall, Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. Futsal’s Indoor fast-paced 5-a-side is ideal for winter, and national sponsors Pokemon provided a free equipment pack to hundreds of clubs nationally, as the format continues to grow – it being a great way to keep players active during the winter weather particularly.
Winners: Belmont Wanderers (Herefordshire)
This was a close contested group, with 3 teams going undefeated. Central (from Exeter) started with a 3-2 win over Corfe Mullen from Somerset, however a 0-2 defeat to Belmont Wanderers put the Herefordshire team top, and a 1-1 draw for Central in their next game against Cornwall’s St Agnes effectively ended the chances of both clubs with St Agnes unlucky in picking up a 3rd draw in a row. Cheltenham Town won against Corfe Mullen and Central, and it eventually came down to the last game, with Cheltenham Town needing a win over Belmont Wanderers. Despite a late equaliser and nervous finish, the Herefordshire team held on 2-2 to top an entertaining group, with Central eventually finishing 4th.
Winners: Wimbourne & Holt (Dorset)
Elburton Villa from Plymouth started with a high scoring 5-5 draw against Somerset champions Bridgwater. The other pitch was no less kamikaze, Wimbourne & Holt from Dorset edging a 6-4 win over St Day from Cornwall. The crucial game proved Wimbourne & Holt’s 4-2 win over Elburton Villa, the Dorset side moving the ball quickly in winning every game to top the group, with Elburton Villa a creditable 2nd just ahead of St Day.
Winners: FC Highnam (Gloucestershire)
Central for Devon were in Group B, and started with a fine 8-1 win over Shepton Mallet from Somerset. They booked their place in the final with a 2-0 win over Tupsley Vixens from Herefordshire. Group A meanwhile was tighter, but FC Highnam (Gloucestershire) saw off Melksham Town 5-2 in the key game. This left two teams with 100% records: Central meeting FC Highnam in the final, the speed and pressing of FC Highnam proving a challenge too far as the Gloucestershire team won out 6-2. As an U11 team playing up a year however, Central can look forward to coming back next season.
Winners: Marine Academy Plymouth (Devon)
Marine Academy Plymouth last year enjoyed a run at U12 all the way to National Semi-Finals, and impressively the club retained their status as South West winners. Opening with wins over Bude and Wimbourne & Holt put MAP into contention, but the run to home looked tricky with games against Hereford Hawks Futsal club and an impressive similarly unbeaten Marlborough to come. MAP came through with a 6-3 win over the Wiltshire side who finished runners up.
Winners: Redlands (Dorset)
Bideford AFC were drawn in group A but an opening heavy defeat to Redlands (Dorset) all but ended their chances straight away, the Dorset side following up with a win of Swindon Spitfires to make the final. In Group B Ross from Herefordshire competed well, but the key game saw Charlestown Angels from Cornwall edge out FC Highnam 3-2 to join Redlands in the final. After a goalless opening quarter, Redlands moved into a 2-0 lead, which they were never to relinquish, finishing 5-1 winners.
Winners: Plymouth Marjon (Devon)
Plymouth Marjon started with a 4-0 win over St Agnes and with other results going their way as Melksham Town (Wiltshire) and Lychett Matravers (Dorset) drew, they were soon in a strong position at the top of the group, and a 7-4 win over Melksham all but secured things with a game to spare. Marjon claimed the title in style with a win over Lychett Matravers, and looked impressive in transition particularly, with quick counter attacks the springboard for many goals.
Winners: Plymouth Aspire (Devon)
Plymouth Aspire were previous South West winners, however they needed 2 late set-piece goals in their opening game against St Agnes to scramble a 3-3 draw, these proving more and more crucial as the afternoon progressed. St Agnes beat Redlands 1-0, but Plymouth Aspire moved top on crucial goal difference with a 3-0 win over Dursley Town. And that was how the group ultimately finished – Plymouth Aspire soon building a big lead over Redlands in their last game to become unreachable, St Agnes the unfortunate runners up on goal difference after a 4-1 win over Dursley.
Winners: Wessex Futsal Club (Wiltshire)
Late team withdrawals unfortunately reduced the U16 Boys event to a straight full length stopped clock game between Wessex Futsal Club from Wiltshire and Champion Sports from Dorset. Wessex the more experienced futsal side led twice in the opening quarter to be pulled back both times, but nevertheless by half time Wessex had built an 8-4 lead. After the break the pattern continued – Champion Sports were tough opponents and always in the hunt, but Wessex maintained just enough of a lead throughout the half to be in control, with the game finishing 19-12 to the Wiltshire Side.
Across all 8 Devon again performed well, with 3 Regional Winners in MAP, Plymouth Marjon and Plymouth Aspire. In a normal season both these and all 8 South West winners would now progress to a national semi-final, with the prize of a final at St George’s Park. However this proved to be the last event of this season’s competition unfortunately, with the other regional finals across the Country unable to take place as just 1 day later came the suspension of football due to Covid-19.
The FA Pokemon Youth Futsal Cup will be back for 2020/21. For 2020/21 season entry will be online, and will include a Pokemon team futsal pack. In Devon each youth league or area holds initial qualifying days, with areas eventually putting forward 2 teams at each group for the Devon Finals. Devon FA offer regular Futsal courses for managers, the Futsal Level 1 can be completed in just a day and is a great way for managers to learn the rules, some training ideas, and about the basic differences in technique and tactics for futsal.