French futsal on the rise!

Five to watch in French futsal – by Rosa Barrancos

Twitter: @RosaBarrancos_

Futsal in France is on the rise! In recent years the French futsal community have been investing time, effort and money to continue on the road to professionalising a Championnat de France de Futsal D1 that, for the time being, retains amateur status. The steps followed by the French Football Association (FFF) and the clubs have been clear and consistent from the beginning, with the common goal of ensuring that the sport continues to grow and fully aware that, for that to happen, world-class players need to be brought in.   

Though the league season has only just begun and it is far too early to talk results and sporting objectives, they have already achieved something that a few seasons ago would have been unthinkable – bringing the eyes of the futsal world onto the French game.

 

Ricardinho www.instagram.com/ricardinho10oficial/

Ricardo Felipe Da Silva Braga, the six-time winner of Futsal Planet’s award for the world’s best player, announced in November 2019 that it would be his final season at Inter Movistar and he would be leaving Spain’s Liga Nacional de Fútbol Sala. At the time, few envisaged the Portuguese superstar dropping anchor in France, specifically at ACCS Futsal Club Paris VA 92, a team entering only its third season in the top flight – having been formed as recently as 2014. 

With his signing the club aimed to bring about a leap in quality, not just for themselves, but for the league as a whole. What is more, as Ricardinho himself confessed in interview with L’Équipe, he had received a number of calls from players at the likes of Spanish giants Barcelona and ElPozo, wondering how they too could get the chance to try their luck in France.    

The good news just kept on coming, even before Ricardinho had arrived on Parisian soil, with attendances rising (pre-COVID) at ACCS’ home matches in Asnières-sur-Seine after his signing was announced – while the French and Portuguese football associations reached an agreement to televise ACCS’ games in Portugal, a move which will help the D1 widen its reach and capture further sponsors.

Ricardinho has signed a contract with ACCS until 2023, with the goal in those seasons to help the club make a mark in the UEFA Futsal Champions League final four – thus taking steps to becoming a feared and respected side at European level.

 

Carlos Ortiz www.instagram.com/ortiz23futsal/

The current captain of Spain and former skipper of Inter Movistar, Ortiz was quick to follow the path taken his Inter colleague and close friend Ricardinho – with the pair also running a joint futsal academy. Having just turned 37 and after a trophy-laden 12-year spell at the team from Torrejón de Ardoz, ‘Spartan’ is another who has started a new adventure at ACCS Paris.

Vastly experienced, a born leader and recognised in world futsal as one of the finest ‘cierres’ ever to play the game, Ortiz is a vital building block in the new project put together by the Parisian outfit. A fierce competitor and serial winner, with Inter he won six LNFS titles, four Spanish Cups and five Spanish Supercups, three UEFA Futsal Champions Leagues and one Intercontinental Cup, as well as four UEFA Futsal EUROs with Spain.

The gifted defender has initially signed on for one season in Paris, telling Diario AS that the reason for leaving Inter was that “both the club and I needed a change, these things happen in life and in sport. I leave feeling pleased with what we achieved in sporting terms, but infinitely more so with the outpouring of warmth and respect I’ve received since the news was made public. That’s something I’ll never forget, a million thanks to everyone.”

 

Landry N’Gala www.instagram.com/ln11_futsal/

The electrifying France international has been another astute move by ACCS, signing on the dotted line for the next three seasons. He has been on the street football, freestyle and now futsal scene for a number of years but is still just 27, with time to continue reaching his undoubtedly enormous potential.

Measuring in at 1.89m and with the physical power to match his outrageous technical ability, N’Gala brings goals and stardust to ACCS and D1 as a whole. Boasting a signature move called “The Hypnotizer” which has featured in adverts for Nike, N’Gala was a key figure in the viral documentary “Ballon sur bitume” – which centred on the vast number of talented players to have emerged from the street football played on the asphalt courts of France’s ‘banlieues’. 

A star performer in France’s debut UEFA Futsal EURO campaign in 2018, N’Gala is clear about his mission to help the sport grow and gain a foothold in his country. With that in mind, his club ACCS have a team capable of competing on all fronts this season – including challenging for glory in the UEFA Futsal Champions League.

 

Bateria www.instagram.com/bateriafutsal/

Turning away from ACCS Paris and other clubs have also strengthened, with second-division outfit FC Kingersheim Futsal making a particularly big splash with the signing of current Brazil international Dione Alex Veroneze – better known as Bateria. With the talented left-footer on board, though he is currently sidelined through injury, the Alsace outfit are aiming to win promotion into D1 this season.

Their case is a clear example of the level of ambition and investment that exists in French futsal, with top-class players like Bateria, and his fellow Brazilian Eka, can be convinced to drop down a level in sporting terms – with the hope of soon taking two steps forwards. 

Formerly of Inter Movistar and Barça, Bateria’s contract with previous club Jimbee ended in June and, after the two parties were unable to agree an extension, Bateria was quick to seal a move to Kingersheim – stating in an interview with cartadelibertad.es that he was committed to “the challenge of helping French futsal grow”.

 

Rubén Ordóñez www.instagram.com/rubenordo8/

Ordóñez’s story is a curious one, the player making the jump from Segunda B team Jerez Futsal to French top-flight outfit Nantes. This summer he got the call from his agent offering him the chance to play against Ricardinho – one of his idols – this season. Hailing from Burguillos del Cerro in Badajoz, the 23-year-old ‘ala’ had offers from sides in Italy and Belgium, but from lower-tier outfits, and did not have to give it much thought when D1 Nantes came calling.

Only a futsal player for the last five years, having been a promising attacking midfielder in the 11-a-side game up to that point, Ordóñez’s progression from novice to professional has certainly been rapid. Intriguingly, Nantes opened their D1 campaign against ACCS and ‘O Mágico’ – with the Portuguese maestro firing a hat-trick in a 6-0 success.  

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