A form of five-a-side football aimed at giving youngsters a life-long love of sport has gone from strength to strength in just one year in Hartlepool.
Futsal, which hails from South America, was introduced in town just over a year ago by coach Greg Gavin.
He began by introducing the sport to a small handful of children at Dyke House Sports and Technology College.
Just over a year later Greg runs multiple sessions for dozens of youngsters aged from three right up to 16.
He said: “I started with just a few kids and went round doing different taster sessions and from there with word of mouth and Facebook marketing it just grew getting more children and teams involved.
“I am quite surprised at the way everyone has taken to it, and the children and parents are absolutely loving it.” Greg now runs three sessions back to back at Hartlepool Sixth Form College on Tuesday evenings, plus a development session at the college on Wednesdays.
My whole philosophy is ensuring participation in sport for life,Greg Gavin
He has also branched out into Billingham and Middlesbrough and works in a number of local schools to introduce the high tempo sport.
Futsal is similar to five-a-side football but a number of the rules are different.
It uses a heavier ball that allows for more touches of the ball to improve players’ technique and ability.
Greg said the chief aim of the sport is to instil a love of sport in children that they will carry into their adult lives.
“My whole philosophy is ensuring participation in sport for life,” he said. “I’m not interested in coaching the less than one per cent of children who go on to make it.
“I want to focus on the majority of children that are going to grow up and become members of the community.
“Currently, 70% to 80% of children drop out of sport at 15 or 16 and never return. Hopefully, I can make a difference and reduce those numbers.”