Face to futsal. Narva is the first in Estonia!

Baltic Futsal Marketing Company tells you about the achievements of different countries  in the development of the most popular and accessible game in the world – futsal in a limited space. It is time to admire the wonderful idea and its high-quality implementation not anywhere but in Estonia! President of Narva United Alexander Dmitriev spoke in detail about a unique sports facility – an open- air futsal playground which was recently opened  in Narva. Equipped with the latest technology it will enjoy futsal fans of different ages for many years.

Alexander, great things begin with an idea. Tell us how the idea of the need to build such a court in Narva came about. 

For the first time we hit on an idea of such a playground about six years ago – it was right then that we, as the Narva United club, sent a corresponding request to the city administration. The most standard question we had to answer at that time was to explain the difference between the usual “boxes” and the site we wanted. We were told: “We are building courts. Why should we build anything else?” and we had to reply that these sites are different in size and they have a completely different coverage (most of them had artificial grass), while we wanted to build a site as close as possible to a futsal one – with appropriate markings and gates and, most importantly, with a safety zone for players (at least 2 meters from the playing field so that nobody would hurt themselves in the heat of the struggle). 

In recent years in Narva various sports facilities for mass sports have been built quite well, but when we tried to arrange the futsal tournaments there, we were constantly faced with inconveniences. It’s possible to run there, but it  is impossible to organize a tournament at the level higher than the yard  one. For example, most of them are equipped with wooden sides, and if it comes to a serious fight then the chance of injury increases several times: after any pushing a player can smash into a side with all the consequences. In summer it was practically unreal to play futsal in Narva, because it is very hot in our sports hall and there is no alternative to it. Of course, you can run somewhere on the pavement, but this has little to do with futsal. We wondered what the solutions of this problem are and we examined quite a lot of sites all over Europe. There are really a large number of them, often they look like a kind of cage  – such a construction prevents the possibility of going the ball out of  the playing field because sometimes the courts are built between two roads. We studied many coverage options. For example, in Spain there are lots of courts that we would like to look up to. We chose plastic combined with modern materials, it is composed in the form of honeycombs and it can be used both for indoor and outdoor facilities. Of course, we have the second option installed –precipitation flows through  it quite quickly, that is if it rains then the water flows inside immediately, without remaining on the surface.  Accordingly, this coverage is multifunctional: you can play tennis, volleyball, handball and other sports on it.  We found a company in Estonia that makes a similar coating to calculate how much it will cost to equip out site. After getting all the figures we sent our calculations with photos of examples from European cities to the municipal administration. At that time a program for the development of sports facilities in Narva for the next 15 years  was  being created and the city administration accepted various proposals. From time to time we were interested in the destiny of our application, but it didn’t really move. After a while we learned that it was included in the building program for the next 10 years.

Not the quickest timeline. What made the city administration revise it?

Last year, perhaps, Narva Baltic Cup,  a tournament  held by the Baltic Futsal League, had an impact. It was a serious international tournament which was attended by very strong clubs.  The Mayor of Narva Alexey Evgrafov paid his attention to this, he was present at the matches, and when we talked about how to help the city’s futsal we remained about our request for the construction of a specialized court. We turned over all our files once more and by the end of 2019 this project was included in the city budget for 2020. Moreover it was at that time when the item on the modernization of the playing coating in our sports hall, where the Baltic Cup was held, was included.  In order to host stronger opponents as a part of the Baltic Futsal League we needed to change the  terraflex to a modern parquet, because such top clubs as Vytis or Stolitsa were  puzzled by the quality of our coverage. Thus we not only renewed our house under the roof ( the renovation was completed last August) , but we also got our outdoor house. 

Do we understand correctly that the site is available for all comers?

Yes, the site is called Narva Soldino Areen, it got its name from the area in which it is situated. Just 200 meters away there is a gymnasium, to which it is virtually attached. I know that PE lessons have already been held there and the guys together with their teacher have played futsal. Everyone can really get there – you can take the key to it from the school administration under the record , open and  then close it. It is equipped with  full lighting, so it is possible to hold matches even in the dark. Now in the snow time it’s not very convenient to use it, but perhaps, in the future we’ll be able to use it in winter as well. It so happened that we have not yet fully used all the capacities of the site: it was opened at a bad time – in the last warm days, then it started raining, and after that it was a second pandemic. But in any case, we can say that our dream came true and it will delight all of us for many years. I hope, on this site we will be able to bring up or find not one player of Narva United, but  perhaps the champion of Estonia. So we are quietly waiting for April – May when we can go outside. I am sure in the summer we’ll spend a lot of fun and interesting days there. 

It turns out that this site is a unique facility for Estonia and it has no analogues in the country.

I may be wrong but it is very likely that this site is the only futsal court of its kind in Estonia. It has no basketball rings, holes for volleyball poles and so on, which makes it unique. I know that there are multifunctional courts with the similar coating, but almost everywhere they are used for basketball, volleyball and big tennis. For example, in Viimsi next to the school where Smsrakha plays its matches there is the same multifunctional playground with  handball gates, so technically you can play futsal there, but to my mind, it’s smaller in size. 

Taking into account that this playground was built in no time we can assume that there were no difficulties in implementing the project?

There were really no problems with the construction. Moreover it was amazing to see how the construction  began only  in May and already in September the sportsground was ready. So everything turned out quickly and efficient. Once in a couple of weeks me together with the guys would come and look curiously at the changes in the building process. It was a joy  to watch  as a modern futsal court grew in place of the old  unused stadium where the dogs were walking. There was a rather funny paradox associated with the  identification of the sportsground. Since it is located in the open air and in Estonian Futsal is called saalijalgpall which can be translated as “football in the  hall”  it was amusing to explain  to those who were not aware that “ sportsground for football in the open air hall” is being built. Therefore  at some point we had to return to the term “mini-football” although in Estonia they move away from it, but in this way it became clearer to  many people what we meant. 


It turns out that except for PE classes there have been no competitions on it yet?

At present we have held only one tournament– high school students played on it. This tournament was timed to coincide with the opening of the court. We plan to hold tournaments there with participation of good teams, perhaps even the teams of  the Baltic Futsal League. I am sure we’ll play a friendly match with Cosmos from Tallinn.

Is there any chance we’ll ever see an official match on it?

Last year in April when the Estonian Futsal championship was stopped because of the pandemic and alternative options for holding matches were considered, the President of the Estonian Football Union Ayvar Pokhlak told the clubs that they were studying the  possibilities of completing the championship on outdoor grounds. At that meeting I said that now we haven’t got such a sportsground, but next year  it will appear in Narva and if you consider  in theory the possibility of holding the national championship  matches  in the open air then we’ll be glad to try to organize everything. So the prospect of holding the official national championship in Estonia on this sportsground exists.