Birth: Fakenham, Norfolk, 19th April 1995
Current team: Guardia Perticara
Loughborough period: 2013-2017
Course: BSc Sports Coaching
England senior international, 27 caps (as on 8 February 2019)
In our second installment of A Closer Look, our sight is set on Italy, where alumnus and England international Mark Croft is developing his professional career at the moment. Fresh from qualifying to the FIFA Futsal World Cup main qualifying round, after England's impressive performance in Latvia, we catch up with him.
See Crofty at the fifa Futsal World Cup Qualifiers
This is now your second season in Italy. What is the experience like?
Crazy, it’s been such a great learning curve for me these last 2 years, I’ve meet some fantastic people along the way who have helped guide me to where I am today. And I’ll be forever great full for the opportunity.
How does the level compare to the English league when you played in it two years ago?
I get asked this question a lot and it’s hard too answer as I know the English league is getting stronger every year. But compared to a few years ago for me apart from Serie A the technical ability of the players are very similar. Where Italy excels is on the tactical side and this will be due to players participating in the sport from a very early age.
There is also a difference in venues, most teams will own a facility meaning less lines on the court (maybe only volleyball and basketball lines). Also the sport has a much higher appeal in Italy, therefore attracting a great atmosphere to the games, I remember one game last year we had over 800 people watching, drums signing the whole works..
Your former team, Loughborough, are doing exceptionally well in the Super League this season. Any messages for them?
Yes. I’ll always have a place in my heart for Loughborough I’ve been watching all the games in Italy and am very impressed on how well they’re doing. All I would say is well done lads, make sure you keep putting in the hard work, the work doesn’t stop when you’ve made it, the hard work is maintaining it Which I know you all can do!
You’ve consolidated yourself in the national team in a very short time. How would you explain such an impressive progression?
Yes it always surprised me how fast I progressed thought the squads in the 4 years I’ve been playing the sport, a big factor has to be joining the IFA and Loughborough Futsal as I was provided with a professional training programme from the very start of my career. This without doubt enhanced my ability, and prepared me for international camps so that when I did get a call up I wouldn’t feel out off my depth and could perform at the best of my ability.
You’re starting a new project now coaching futsal goalkeepers in England as well. What can you tell us of it?
A very exciting time for myself, I’ve always wanted to give back to the sport once I’d gained the experience and I feel now is the perfect time to pass on this knowledge through the use of a professional goalkeeping school. I really wish I had something like this when I was starting out, Instead of having to learn from watching goalkeepers in the Spanish leagues and from experience.
We can’t say much about it at the moment but the school will aimed at all ages and abilities with the intention of raising the ability of goalkeeping in England. Make sure to follow FutsalGKS on all social media platforms as we will be posting all updates of the school as it progresses on there.
England achieved an outstanding success in going through to the main qualifying round of the World Cup. Can you talk us through to what the tournament was like?
The moment was by far the best I have ever felt on a Futsal pitch. Each team we faced proved challenging in different ways from Cyprus using the fly Goalkeeper for 30 minutes to Latvia’s strong, disciplined defence. We were disappointed with the final games result vs the hosts but looking back we achieved what we came for and that was to qualify for the next round.
How does the team feel ahead of the next round and the 9 months of preparations towards it?
The team is in a great place at the moment and we were happy with all 3 performances especially in possession. It’s going to be a busy summer that’s for sure to guarantee being in the best shape possible heading into the main round come October. But overall it’s a really exciting time for English Futsal and I can’t wait to meet back up with the lads to continue our preparations in this World Cup campaign.