The Umbro Futsal Award 2018 nominees were recently revealed. If you are not familiar with futsal then these awards, organised by FutsalPlanet and sponsored by Umbro, are the equivalent of the Golden Ball Awards in football.
Each year since 2000 they have recognised the best performers worldwide in the sport across several categories. They are hotly anticipated with the results receiving coverage from mainstream media outlets and inevitably create a lot of debate by fans on social media.
The Best Player in the World for men is currently held by Ricardinho who has won it for a record fourth consecutive time and five times in total. He is the favourite again having a superb year winning the Spanish League and UEFA Futsal Champions League as well as leading Portugal to their first ever major championship title at the UEFA Futsal Euro.
Ricardinho faces competition from his teammates at club level in Gadeia and Pola, and from the national team in Bruno Coelho. Another strong candidate is Danilo Baron from Brazil who helped the unfancied Pato take the Brazilian title.
The youngest nominee on the list is Leandro Lino at just 23 years old. It would be a big surprise if he claimed the award this time around even if he was one of the key figures in Magnus Futsal becoming World Club Champions. However, not many would bet against him gaining recognition as number one in the world in the future.
The Best Woman Player of the World has equally been dominated by one individual recently in Brazil’s Amandinha who is also going for a fifth consecutive title. Incredibly this has all been achieved by the age of 24 years of old since turning professional at 16. 2018 has been another year of success for the Brazilian maestro having lifted 10 trophies in total. Amandinha is joined by four of her compatriots on the nominee list including two-time winner Vanessa.
In the Best Young Player in the World category, current holder Fernan from Spain has the chance to retain the accolade. He will face a strong challenge from Brazil and Magnus Futsal’s Marcel who claimed the Intercontinental Cup and is being strongly linked with a move to Spain. Another leading candidate is Sergio who made his senior international debut for Spain in 2018.
In the Best Goalkeeper of the World Category there are former winners in Italy’s Stefano Mamarella who won the award in 2011, 2012 and 2014 and Leo Higuita who won it in 2015 and 2016. The incumbent, Paco Sedano, who won it for the first time at 38 years of age for his performances for Spain and FC Barcelona is not nominated after retiring.
The other categories include Best National Team Coach of the World (Dimitri Nicolaou Award), Best Club Coach of the World, Best National Team of the World, Best Club Team of the World and Best Referee of the World.
Voting is now underway by key figures in the futsal community that includes coaches, journalists and administrators. The winners of the most prestigious and important individual accolades in the sport will be announced on December 31st.
Written by Doug Reed, England and Sussex Futsal Club