The Football Association of Maldives (FAM) is set to launch a national futsal league, one of the more popular sports in the Maldives.
The announcement came after the local sporting community criticized the exclusion of futsal from the recently held Maldives Sports Awards 2023. The FAM said it excluded the sports since it did not have a national-level league to assess and recognize talents.
Earlier in the week, FAM’s President Bassam Adeel Jaleel met with the Minister of Youth, Sports, and Community Empowerment Ahmed Mahloof to discuss the plans to launch the league.
Bassam said that the minister welcomed the decision and assured his full support and commitment to the league.
FAM said that the league will begin in mid-2023 and that more information will be released soon.
A discipline of football, futsal started taking root in the Maldives during the early 2000s. The sport became widely popular in the country with several competitions and tournaments held in Malé and atolls, including the Club Maldives Cup, which is held between government offices and state-owned enterprises, and the Golden Futsal Challenge, held between local islands.
In 2005 and 2006, national futsal teams consisting mostly of retired footballers were formed to compete in the Asian Championship.
The FAM president previously stated that football and futsal will be separated into two distinct sports, with players required to choose one and stick to it in the future.
In 2017, a futsal sub-association was created because FIFA rules stipulate that the sport should be run by the national football association of each country.
The association sent a national futsal team to compete in the Indoor Games after this.
Futsal is considered an indoor sport, but the country lacks indoor venues, though both the previous and current administrations have developed several outdoor pitches across the atolls.
Local futsal players do not receive training in indoor venues, making it difficult for them to perform in overseas tournaments mostly held on indoor pitches. The lack of indoor pitches in the Maldives was also noted by FAM’s President as the primary obstacle to the development of futsal.
“Even now, our coaching and referees’ courses for futsal have been interrupted since we do not have an indoor hall,” Bassam said.
While Bassam assured that the FAM would develop an indoor futsal arena in the future, it would likely be developed ahead of the national league.