Talented Teen Nets Opportunity To Represent Country in Futsal

In In the Press, News, School Leavers, on the 12th, May 2015

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Darlington College sports diploma student Johnny Lazenby, 17, of Darlington, has been called up to the England U19 Futsal team

Darlington College student Johnny Lazenby has been called up to play for England U19s Futsal team.

The former Longfield Academy pupil’s talent caught the eye of FA coaches after competing in a National Schools Futsal Tournament in 2014 earning him a place at the England development squad training camp.

“I’d never even heard of Futsal until we started playing it at school,” said Johnny, of Darlington.

“I’d been playing football since I was five so it was quite easy to pick up but Futsal is a much more intense, faster paced game where you need to concentrate much more on ball skills and decision making.

“Being selected to go to the England training camp was unbelievable but being selected to play for my country is just incredible.”

Recognised by both UEFA and FIFA Futsal is a fast paced five-a-side game played on a flat indoor pitch with hockey-sized goals and a smaller ball with a reduced bounce.  Games are 20 minutes per half played to a stop clock with time-outs permitted.

Many top world class footballers credit playing Futsal in their youth with developing their skills including South American legends Pele, Ronaldinho, Kaka and Lionel Messi and European stars Cristiano Ronaldo, Deco, Xavi, and Fabregas.

Seventeen-year old Johnny, is currently studying a diploma in sport at Darlington College in partnership with the Martin Gray Football Academy.

Alongside playing Futsal for England U19s, the talented central midfielder has also been invited to train with Darlington FC U18s next season with the aim of progressing him into the club’s first team.

Director of Operations for the Martin Gray Football Academy Graham Hodgson, said: “We are absolutely delighted for Johnny who is one of a number of our young lads to have gone on to have success in their chosen sport.

“In the last three years our association with Darlington College has seen over 70 students progress through the academy with 50 new students due to start the course this September.

“In that time a number of them have played for Darlington FC with four players – Lewis Walton, Danny Wheeler, Adam Lee-Shields and Connor Briggs – making their debuts in our promotion winning season of the season and defender Matthew Lovegreen  playing while still in his first year of the course.”

Johnny will make his England Futsal debut on June 9 at St George’s Park, Burton, and will play for local club Middlesbrough at a tournament in Morocco later in the summer.

Manger of Darlington FC Martin Gray added: “This is a wonderful achievement for Johnny. It is always fantastic to represent your country in any sport.

“As a player Johnny has improved massively since joining our course. The football training he gets here really helps to improve his Futsal skills and vice versa.”

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