Copyright 2014

England Futsal to face Swedes at Copper Box

Sweden will be the opposition in a Futsal international double-header for Peter Sturgess' England squad as they prepare for their first ever fixture at London 2012 venue the Copper Box on February 27-28.

Many of the top world class footballers played Futsal in their youth and credit it with supporting their footballing development; players of the calibre of Pele, Zico, Ronaldinho, Kaka and Lionel Messi to name but a few.

Now fans in Essex can enjoy Futsal as the opening game takes place at 7:30pm on Friday February 27, with the second clash between the sides kicking-off at 4pm the next day.

Special ticket deals are being offered, subject to availability, and exhibition matches will take place two hours before each of the fixtures.

Nick Emery, senior football development officer at the Essex FA, said: "It's great to have more international Futsal of this magnitude on our doorstep. It really helps to introduce the format to local players and clubs as it's still relatively new, although it is growing in popularity.

"Hopefully this will inspire more players to get involved, and I'd recommend getting in touch with us so we can signpost people to local clubs or sessions."

Futsal is an exciting, fast-paced game which is widely played across the world and is officially recognised by both UEFA and FIFA. The nature of the format places a large emphasis on technical skill and ability in situations of high pressure, and is subsequently an excellent breeding ground for football competencies which can be translated into the 11v11 format.

A five-a-side game, it is normally played on a flat indoor pitch with hockey-sized goals and a size four ball with a reduced bounce. It is played to touchlines, and all players are free to enter the penalty area and play the ball over head height.

Games are 20 minutes per half, played to a stopping clock (similar to basketball), with timeouts permitted.

There are a number of differences to the traditional version of small-sided football, but the dominant elements are the absence of rebound boards and amendments in the laws which encourage and foster skilful, creative play above the physical contact which tends to be a feature of English five-a-side.

The surface, ball and rules create an emphasis on improvisation, creativity and technique as well as ball control and passing in small spaces.

On the European stage Cristiano Ronaldo, Deco, Xavi and Fabregas, amongst many others, have played Futsal to develop their skills. A special group ticket offer is available to see the next generation emerge, with a free ticket for every nine booked. Family tickets are available for £17 - adults are priced at £7.50 individually and concessions at just £3.50.

Don't miss out on the chance to witness this thrilling and highly competitive contest - call 0844 8884420 or visit ticketline.co.uk/england-futsal-international to book your seats.

Further information on the build-up to the games, plus details on how to play Futsal in Essex, can be found at essexfa.com, by following @EssexCountyFA on Twitter and by searching for 'EssexFootball' on Facebook.