We are delighted to announce that Mansfield under-21 midfielder Alistair Smith has been called up to the England Senior Futsal Team training camp, which takes place at St. George's Park next month.
Smith has previously appeared for the England Under-23 Futsal Team, but has now had the call-up for the senior training camp which will take place over the weekend commencing Friday 07 September.
With the training camp brings an opportunity for Smith to make the squad for the senior team's next fixture, a friendly against Croatia on Sunday 23 September.
The midfielder says that despite appearing for England's under-23 Futsal side before, the call-up to the senior side was still a surprise, and also explained the main differences between 11-a-side football and the game of Futsal.
"It [call-up] was a bit of a surprise," said Smith. "I didn't expect it. After only playing one game with the under-23s, I got the call and was obviously really happy about it.
"It should be good. We have the weekend camp coming up and I'm really looking forward to it. Hopefully I can have a good camp and try and get out there [against Croatia] with the squad. It will be a good experience.
"I didn't expect it. After only playing one game with the under-23s, I got the call and was obviously really happy about it."
"It [Futsal] is indoors and is played on a pitch that's slightly bigger than a regular five-a-side court. It's played four [outfield players] against four, or five against five if you count the 'keeper.
"The game is much quicker and you get less touches on the ball. There is a lot of movement [between the players].
"You have to be always switched on mentally. The game is played at a really high pace because there are a lot of transitions as obviously it's played on a small court."
Smith stated his gratitude to senior development coach Richard Cooper, who works closely with Stags' under-21s, and also thanked the club for buying him a congratulatory pair of Futsal trainers.
"I have to pay a big thank you to Coops. He sorted out the first camp that I had with the under-23s. Without him none of this would be possible.
"I got the news yesterday that the club have been nice enough to spoil me with a pair of [Futsal] trainers for the camp. It was a really nice touch from them."
Cooper has explained that the academy are proud of Smith's achievement, and touched on the perks of implementing Futsal into their training programmes.
"As an academy and as a club we are extremely proud of Alistair. We have featured Futsal in the academy for the last 18 months, and the staff have coaching badges in it.
"Ever since we did our badges in Futsal, the FA starting taking notice in some of our scholars. They were looking at a few of the players and Alistair in particular.
"John Dempster [academy manager] has put Futsal into the training programme for our academy sides and we get monthly sessions from professional Futsal coaches.
"The more opportunities we can offer up to the players in the academy, the better. Things like this certainly help as they provide the players with different experiences.
The Stags' coach went on to speak of the benefits Futsal can have on the 11-a-side game, and stated his belief that Smith can make it into the senior squad for upcoming fixtures.
"In possession, Alistair is very capable. It's the out of possession in Futsal that brings the benefits, as it's ferocious when the players are trying to get the ball back.
"I think the out of possession work brings the most benefits to the 11-a-side game. We certainly get good trade-offs from Futsal to football, and the positives are clear.
"We're delighted for Alistair. If the camp goes well, he has a real opportunity to get into the squad for the upcoming games."
For more information about England Futsal, click here.