Kareem El-Shafie grew up in Brighton watching and playing futsal. One of the KU team’s most dedicated and enthusiastic members, El-Shafie never misses a single training session and provides regular feedback on how the team can improve.
“I started playing because my dad took me to a local team called Seagulls, and from there I truly found my love for football,” said El-Shafie.
The game (a contraction of the Spanish ‘futbol sala’) is a FIFA-recognised form of small-sided indoor football. It is played between two teams, each with five players on the field at any given time, with rolling substitutes and a smaller, harder, and less bouncy ball than soccer.
Because of the limited space, players must have exceptional technique and skill, and it is considered a development tool for 11-a-side football as well as a professional sport with national and international championships.
“I have a lot of energy because of my ADHD so I’d describe my playstyle as aggressive, but I like to pass the ball or shoot when the opportunity arises,” said El-Shafie.
Futsal v football
El-Shafie studies business management at Kingston Hill, but like many student-athletes, tries to find a balance between his sporting and academic life.
“I joined because I couldn’t make the 11-a-side football trial, and I figured it would be similar to indoor football,” Kareem explained.
“Now that we have a great coach and I’m starting to understand the technicalities of the game a little better, I’m starting to enjoy it a lot more.”
Kingston University’s futsal team is coached and managed by Sam Sandri, a former coach who played professionally in the English National League for several years.
The KU squad, which consists of 19 players from various backgrounds, competes in the Men’s South Eastern League.
Kareem had previously played in the Sunday League for Brighton, so the transition to futsal has been drastic. Although the two sports are similar, futsal necessitates far more directness and technical ability due to the smaller playing field.
“A great football player can be a poor futsal player, and vice versa. Of course, the main goal in both sports is to get the ball into the net, but if only it were that simple,” Kareem said.
“To tell you the truth, futsal has helped me improve my football skills because it requires quick decision-making and a clean first touch.”
The Kingston University men’s futsal team trains from 6-8pm every Friday at the Tiffin Boys School.