UNIVERSITY of York are looking for local under-19 players to join their FA National League top-flight futsal team.
Having won promotion last season, the team are now offering talented non-students an opportunity to play the five-a-side sport at the highest level in this country.
York are one of the top three university futsal teams in England with only Loughborough and Gloucester also fielding sides in next season's National League first division.
The North Yorkshire students also benefit from the guidance of Brazilian coach Junior Roberti who, after being told he would not make the grade in 11-a-side football, played futsal professionally in his home country, Spain and Italy before hanging up his boots in 2008.
Roberti has previously coached Leeds and Sheffield FC in the National League but helped York reach the European University Championships in Malaga during 2013/14 and now wants the team to strengthen their ranks by recruiting from outside campus.
Trials were held yesterday and another session is being held tomorrow from 3.30pm to 5pm at the university's sports centre.
Anybody interested - and under the age of 19 - is encouraged to sign up by visiting the www.yorkfutsal.co.uk website.
Futsal differs to traditional five-a-side football in this country as it is played with a heavier ball on hard-court surfaces to encourage close control.
A five-foul rule also promotes fair play, with a ten-metre penalty awarded to the opposition when that quota is reached in either half of a game.
Each subsequent foul then receives the same punishment until the half is completed.
The new season, kicking off in mid-September, will see the university team compete against Leeds & Wakefield, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Sheffield, Stockport and Teesside in the North first division.
Eight teams will also contest the Midlands and South titles before the top four, from each division, form a Super League, which will eventually lead to a grand final to decide who goes on to represent England at the European Championships, where some of the continent’s top football clubs could lie in waiting.
“There is a small possibility – but at the moment a much bigger one than in football – that a team from York could play Barcelona in a competitive futsal match,” coach Roberti pointed out.
“It wouldn’t be impossible for us to finish in the top four positions because, while there are two or three good teams in the North division, the rest are pretty similar. But, really, next season, we are aiming for stability.
“Being promoted to the National League’s first division was a big achievement, as was playing in the European University Championships. We will be playing the best teams in the country now, so that's an even bigger challenge.”
Futsal’s popularity at the university is growing by the year, with a women’s team just marking the end of their inaugural season by reaching the last 16 of the BUCS National Cup.
Roberti also runs an academy for children, aged between four and 16, at the Heslington-based centre and holds coaching camps in the school holidays.