The UEFA Futsal Cup is the Futsal equivalent of the Champion's League and only the National Champions of each association are invited to participate. This year's League of Ireland champions' Cork City have been drawn to play a mini tournament in Varna, Bulgaria from 19-23 August. Their group is a difficult one with the club Champions of Bulgaria, Moldova and Turkey making up the remainder of the group.
However, the League of Ireland's Rob Rogers who became Ireland's first FIFA Futsal Referee panellist in January 2009 has been appointed to officiate at the mini tournament in Austria which features the club champions from Austria, Israel, Armenia and Iceland.
Rob Rogers said: "It's nice to receive recognition from UEFA and I'm looking forward to the experience. Futsal has been progressing very well in Ireland in recent years from a player's and a competition point of view but I'm glad to say that every effort has also been made by the FAI to develop referees who become interested in Futsal.
"It's a high intensity game which sharpens a referee's concentration skills and ensures that they are focussed 100% of the time during a match.
Things happen so quickly and far more frequently in Futsal than they do in the outdoor game that it's a fantastic physical and mental workout which I believe benefits my concentration levels when refereeing the outdoor game."
While Rob is looking forward to his UEFA tournament, another prominent Irish Futsal Referee, Gerry Behan has just returned from Nantes, France where he officiated in the International Blind Sports Association European Futsal Championship.
Gerry performed very well during the competition and was awarded the honour of refereeing the final match between Ukraine and Belarus in front of a sizeable crowd of 1000 in the impressive indoor arena.
Gerry Behan said: "It was an honour to be appointed to the final game along with two French colleagues. It was a great game played in a wonderful atmosphere. It's very nice to be recognised as having performed well and I believe that these opportunities which are now becoming available are indicative of the rapid progress being made by Irish Futsal referees."
Indeed it was worthy recognition of two referees regarded as among the best Futsal referees that Ireland currently has to offer.
And of course, the progress being made by Rob in particular shows that there are wonderful opportunities for referees who become interested in Futsal.
There is now a healthy crop of referees who have taken to this fast and exciting game which undoubtedly helps sharpen their skills for outdoor duties. And hopefully, it won't be too long before we see another Irish referee appointed to the FIFA Futsal panel.
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