The Minifootball Association of Ireland & the 2018 European Championships: The Management Team – Part 2
July 4, 2018 (No Comments) by Emmet Switzer

It is a dream for every sports person to represent their country, and a dream that often falls by the wayside as we get older. Many of us look out onto the pitch when we go to see an international game. The honest ones will admit that from time to time, we drift off into our own ‘Walter Mitty’ world, where we got the chance at glory.

Time limitations, life pressures and lack of confidence in ability are often the reasons people don’t pursue their dream. These are also the causes behind people falling away from sport, even at a social level.

Dreams Versus Reality

The reality, though, is that amateur sport still has massive opportunities for many of us, from international competitions to the Olympics. Minifootball is one of those areas where amateur footballers can get that chance to represent their country, like a professional.

minifootball-ireland-your-call

Although the international playing standard is higher than the Irish average, there are players out there that, with the right direction, can compete at that level. The MAI have been seeking those players out. To get a bit more content and background, we’d recommend having a read over Part 1 of our  MAI series on Where It All Began. There, we looked at how minifootball has grown in Ireland, the challenges involved, national competitions and the costs of success.

Search For A Star

In September of 2017 the MAI put out a directive to all those involved in the MAI, the leagues, venues and refs, to keep an eye out for players that had the ability to play international football for the MAI 6 a side team.

In January 2018, banners started to appear at many venues, social media activity began and emails were issued to invite players to come to trials to play for the national squad. At the same time, the administrators and referees at the 4 main minifootball tournaments in Ireland were requested to report back on any ‘quality’ players.

minifootball-association-of-ireland-scouting

Three trials were run between that point and the start of May of 2018, during which time 40 players registered, and 20 were selected to continue. Joining the squad, though, is still an ongoing process with potential players still able to apply for the team here.

Once In A Lifetime

Trials are carried out at the National Sports campus in Abbotstown, Dublin, where the management team, which consists of Martin Perciavalle – Manager/Head Coach, Sebastian Perciavalle – Coach/Goal Keeper Coach, John Smyth – Coach/Strength and conditioning Coach and Aidan Raftery, team Sports Therapist, put the players through multiple tests to see what they have to offer.  This includes reviews of their stamina, skills, strength and agility. It also however takes account of their seniority, experience, ability to work on a team and attitude.

The association will also review the player’s maturity, ability to travel and disciplinary record, key elements that they need to have in shape should they want to represent their country. This information is updated on a weekly basis by the management team and association on official training reports so that each player is kept on their toes, as they are aware that they never stop getting assessed.

The trials are now complete, and the management team have shortlisted the players for the squad to travel to Kiev. Tickets and hotels are booked and preparations continue. Just last month the association also announced that they secured a fixture with the English 6 a side men’s team.

The game takes place this Saturday 7th of July at the National Sports Campus in Dublin. England have recently beaten reigning World Champions Czech Republic so it’s sure to be an exciting clash.

The Management Team

The MAI are proud to have appointed some of the best, small sided football figures in Ireland to take the team to the next level, and this is a job that they have taken seriously. Here is an introduction to the key people who will lead Ireland to the European Championships in Kiev this August️.

Martin Perciavalle – Team Coach

Martin Perciavalle is the national team head coach, but also head coach for the Irish deaf national Futsal team, and ‘Saints and Scholars’, one of the top Futsal teams in Ireland. He works for the coach education department of the FAI, assisting with Futsal development. Martin’s experience is second to none. With a strong character, and an obvious drive to achieve his goals, there is nobody better suited.

martin-perciavalle-team-coach

Martin chose the management team, and the players, through a lengthy trial period, and already has them training 2 days per week. From stats to tactics, management to psychology, Martin is the MAI man.

We spoke to Martin at a recent training session, and managed to get a few words from him. “Representing your country is the highest achievement a person can dream of. Not everybody has the chance to do it and in my case, despite not being Irish born, I’m going to be representing my daughter’s country. A country that, in 2004, took my family and I in, and received me with opened arms. Therefore, not only is the responsibility high, but the pressure to do well too. The MAI gives the opportunity to amateur football players to play for their country at European or World Level. The organisation of each one of the tournaments, is very similar to any of the professional ones, therefore for coaches and players it is a dream come true. Hopefully we can make all the Irish supporters proud.”

John Smyth – Strength and Conditioning

John Smyth is a qualified personal trainer in Strength and Conditioning, with a background in 11 a side soccer, both coaching and playing. John took the leap into Futsal, working with the Irish Deaf Futsal team for the European qualifiers, which they secured progression in.

john-smyth-strength-and-conditioning

There is a synergy between John and the management staff unlike no other, as they have worked together before. His key roles are to build players fitness, assist with recovery, and understand recovery. There is also a key focus on injury prevention, and providing individual nutrition programmes prior to, during and after the major events.

When questioned about being involved in the national team, John said, “I am very proud to once again represent my country and work with a management team that is so professional. I want to be part of something that we can help to grow and to get the FAI to take notice of. This is a great avenue for people to explore, as we know a lot of people lose interest in 11 a side football at a certain age. You see the growth of social Astro football, but Minifootball is a great combination of both with a bit more structure.”

Aidan Raftery – Team Sports Therapist

Aidan Raftery is the national team sports therapist, first aid responder, and general media expert. He has a wealth of experience in sport including working with the successful St Peters F.C., who just cleaned up all the silverware available in Roscommon. Aidan is also sports therapist for the Amputee national team.

aidan-raftery-team-sports-therapist

He is involved in keeping the players injuries tended to, and advising them on how to prevent injury. On top of this, he is also heavily involved in assisting with the team’s PR and getting team interviews. Aidan interviews the players and staff on ROS FM, where he has a regular sports slot and invites the management team on a regular basis. Aidan is also a regular contributor with The Sharpe and has put together multiple articles on injury prevention in sport.

Aidan has said “This means a lot to me as I have always wanted to represent Ireland in one capacity or another. I am delighted to be involved with the backroom staff as the team sports therapist. The players and the rest of the management team are great to work with. I am available 24/7 for the players and staff, as my philosophy is this is for Ireland. You can’t get much higher in sport than representing your country. My family and friends are delighted for me.”

Sebastian Perciavalle – Goalkeeper Coach

Sebastian has had extensive goalkeeping experience, with both coaching and playing behind him. He is the goalkeeper coach for Saints and Scholars Futsal and the national deaf futsal teams. He is progressing through his futsal coaching badges, and has an added few tricks up his sleeve.

sebastian-perciavalle-team-goalkeeper-coach

Sebastian was also the national Uruguayan national field hockey keeper too in a former life, a sport from which the team can draw some key skills from on small goal tending.

Bringing in Results

So, the management team is in, the squad is growing and developing, and the first international friendly is on the cards for the 7th of July. Now we need to start bringing in results, and working our way up the ranking list.

It’s in at the deep end on that one, and there is no better way to prove yourself then that. While the management team prepares for the Euros, the association management will be preparing all their trip and equipment.

There will also be a big push on the sub 23s and women’s team, which will be launched in the near future. Keep an eye out for the next part in our series which will look further at the upcoming European Championships in Kiev next month.

About the Author – Emmet Switzer

Emmet is the President of the Minifootball Association of Ireland (MAI), on the world committee for the Football 5s World Championships (F5WC), CEO for inter7s.com, the largest 7 a side league in Ireland, and developer of Socia Soccer, a ref-less form of minifootball that is growing internationally.

emmet-switzer

Based in Dublin and Madrid, he is an educator in minifootball, socia sports and social entrepreneurship, teaching at the Real Madrid university in both Madrid and Bangkok. Along with numerous other projects including developing sports software, charity fund raising and heavy involvement in most of the international competing Irish men and women’s 5, 6 and 7 a side teams.

Although interested in minifootball, Emmet promotes and pushes people to stay active in sport. He is aggressively working to increase participation in sport, with a new focus on the rapidly declining children and women in sport. You can learn more about Emmet’s leagues at www.inter7s.com and his work in the MAI at www.maireland.com.

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The Minifootball Association of Ireland & the 2018 European Championships: The Management Team – Part 2
July 4, 2018 (No Comments) by Emmet Switzer

It is a dream for every sports person to represent their country, and a dream that often falls by the wayside as we get older. Many of us look out onto the pitch when we go to see an international game. The honest ones will admit that from time to time, we drift off into our own ‘Walter Mitty’ world, where we got the chance at glory.

Time limitations, life pressures and lack of confidence in ability are often the reasons people don’t pursue their dream. These are also the causes behind people falling away from sport, even at a social level.

Dreams Versus Reality

The reality, though, is that amateur sport still has massive opportunities for many of us, from international competitions to the Olympics. Minifootball is one of those areas where amateur footballers can get that chance to represent their country, like a professional.

minifootball-ireland-your-call

Although the international playing standard is higher than the Irish average, there are players out there that, with the right direction, can compete at that level. The MAI have been seeking those players out. To get a bit more content and background, we’d recommend having a read over Part 1 of our  MAI series on Where It All Began. There, we looked at how minifootball has grown in Ireland, the challenges involved, national competitions and the costs of success.

Search For A Star

In September of 2017 the MAI put out a directive to all those involved in the MAI, the leagues, venues and refs, to keep an eye out for players that had the ability to play international football for the MAI 6 a side team.

In January 2018, banners started to appear at many venues, social media activity began and emails were issued to invite players to come to trials to play for the national squad. At the same time, the administrators and referees at the 4 main minifootball tournaments in Ireland were requested to report back on any ‘quality’ players.

minifootball-association-of-ireland-scouting

Three trials were run between that point and the start of May of 2018, during which time 40 players registered, and 20 were selected to continue. Joining the squad, though, is still an ongoing process with potential players still able to apply for the team here.

Once In A Lifetime

Trials are carried out at the National Sports campus in Abbotstown, Dublin, where the management team, which consists of Martin Perciavalle – Manager/Head Coach, Sebastian Perciavalle – Coach/Goal Keeper Coach, John Smyth – Coach/Strength and conditioning Coach and Aidan Raftery, team Sports Therapist, put the players through multiple tests to see what they have to offer.  This includes reviews of their stamina, skills, strength and agility. It also however takes account of their seniority, experience, ability to work on a team and attitude.

The association will also review the player’s maturity, ability to travel and disciplinary record, key elements that they need to have in shape should they want to represent their country. This information is updated on a weekly basis by the management team and association on official training reports so that each player is kept on their toes, as they are aware that they never stop getting assessed.

The trials are now complete, and the management team have shortlisted the players for the squad to travel to Kiev. Tickets and hotels are booked and preparations continue. Just last month the association also announced that they secured a fixture with the English 6 a side men’s team.

The game takes place this Saturday 7th of July at the National Sports Campus in Dublin. England have recently beaten reigning World Champions Czech Republic so it’s sure to be an exciting clash.

The Management Team

The MAI are proud to have appointed some of the best, small sided football figures in Ireland to take the team to the next level, and this is a job that they have taken seriously. Here is an introduction to the key people who will lead Ireland to the European Championships in Kiev this August️.

Martin Perciavalle – Team Coach

Martin Perciavalle is the national team head coach, but also head coach for the Irish deaf national Futsal team, and ‘Saints and Scholars’, one of the top Futsal teams in Ireland. He works for the coach education department of the FAI, assisting with Futsal development. Martin’s experience is second to none. With a strong character, and an obvious drive to achieve his goals, there is nobody better suited.

martin-perciavalle-team-coach

Martin chose the management team, and the players, through a lengthy trial period, and already has them training 2 days per week. From stats to tactics, management to psychology, Martin is the MAI man.

We spoke to Martin at a recent training session, and managed to get a few words from him. “Representing your country is the highest achievement a person can dream of. Not everybody has the chance to do it and in my case, despite not being Irish born, I’m going to be representing my daughter’s country. A country that, in 2004, took my family and I in, and received me with opened arms. Therefore, not only is the responsibility high, but the pressure to do well too. The MAI gives the opportunity to amateur football players to play for their country at European or World Level. The organisation of each one of the tournaments, is very similar to any of the professional ones, therefore for coaches and players it is a dream come true. Hopefully we can make all the Irish supporters proud.”

John Smyth – Strength and Conditioning

John Smyth is a qualified personal trainer in Strength and Conditioning, with a background in 11 a side soccer, both coaching and playing. John took the leap into Futsal, working with the Irish Deaf Futsal team for the European qualifiers, which they secured progression in.

john-smyth-strength-and-conditioning

There is a synergy between John and the management staff unlike no other, as they have worked together before. His key roles are to build players fitness, assist with recovery, and understand recovery. There is also a key focus on injury prevention, and providing individual nutrition programmes prior to, during and after the major events.

When questioned about being involved in the national team, John said, “I am very proud to once again represent my country and work with a management team that is so professional. I want to be part of something that we can help to grow and to get the FAI to take notice of. This is a great avenue for people to explore, as we know a lot of people lose interest in 11 a side football at a certain age. You see the growth of social Astro football, but Minifootball is a great combination of both with a bit more structure.”

Aidan Raftery – Team Sports Therapist

Aidan Raftery is the national team sports therapist, first aid responder, and general media expert. He has a wealth of experience in sport including working with the successful St Peters F.C., who just cleaned up all the silverware available in Roscommon. Aidan is also sports therapist for the Amputee national team.

aidan-raftery-team-sports-therapist

He is involved in keeping the players injuries tended to, and advising them on how to prevent injury. On top of this, he is also heavily involved in assisting with the team’s PR and getting team interviews. Aidan interviews the players and staff on ROS FM, where he has a regular sports slot and invites the management team on a regular basis. Aidan is also a regular contributor with The Sharpe and has put together multiple articles on injury prevention in sport.

Aidan has said “This means a lot to me as I have always wanted to represent Ireland in one capacity or another. I am delighted to be involved with the backroom staff as the team sports therapist. The players and the rest of the management team are great to work with. I am available 24/7 for the players and staff, as my philosophy is this is for Ireland. You can’t get much higher in sport than representing your country. My family and friends are delighted for me.”

Sebastian Perciavalle – Goalkeeper Coach

Sebastian has had extensive goalkeeping experience, with both coaching and playing behind him. He is the goalkeeper coach for Saints and Scholars Futsal and the national deaf futsal teams. He is progressing through his futsal coaching badges, and has an added few tricks up his sleeve.

sebastian-perciavalle-team-goalkeeper-coach

Sebastian was also the national Uruguayan national field hockey keeper too in a former life, a sport from which the team can draw some key skills from on small goal tending.

Bringing in Results

So, the management team is in, the squad is growing and developing, and the first international friendly is on the cards for the 7th of July. Now we need to start bringing in results, and working our way up the ranking list.

It’s in at the deep end on that one, and there is no better way to prove yourself then that. While the management team prepares for the Euros, the association management will be preparing all their trip and equipment.

There will also be a big push on the sub 23s and women’s team, which will be launched in the near future. Keep an eye out for the next part in our series which will look further at the upcoming European Championships in Kiev next month.

About the Author – Emmet Switzer

Emmet is the President of the Minifootball Association of Ireland (MAI), on the world committee for the Football 5s World Championships (F5WC), CEO for inter7s.com, the largest 7 a side league in Ireland, and developer of Socia Soccer, a ref-less form of minifootball that is growing internationally.

emmet-switzer

Based in Dublin and Madrid, he is an educator in minifootball, socia sports and social entrepreneurship, teaching at the Real Madrid university in both Madrid and Bangkok. Along with numerous other projects including developing sports software, charity fund raising and heavy involvement in most of the international competing Irish men and women’s 5, 6 and 7 a side teams.

Although interested in minifootball, Emmet promotes and pushes people to stay active in sport. He is aggressively working to increase participation in sport, with a new focus on the rapidly declining children and women in sport. You can learn more about Emmet’s leagues at www.inter7s.com and his work in the MAI at www.maireland.com.

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