Estimated reading time:6 minutes, 43 seconds
Today, Futsal Focus makes its way to the CONCACAF region of the world to speak with Duilio Gustavo Gimondo, the Director of Futsal for the Dominican Football Federation, and adviser to the President. (Main picture on the right)
The last time Futsal Focus reported on Futsal development in the Dominican Republic was in 2017 when a plan to develop both Futsal and beach soccer had been announced. The main objective of the plan was to create professional futsal and beach soccer leagues. The announcement was made by the engineer himself – the Football Federation’s president Osiris Guzmán Delgado, and as part of the press conference, he announced Roy Blanche from Canada as their head coach who would lead the futsal and beach soccer project.
The event took place at Fedofutbol; grounds of the Dominican Republic Futbol Federation. However, the Football Federation and the project was put on hold due to corruption allegations and the review of the Federation’s board and future by FIFA. Despite this, the country still took part in the Futsal tournament at the 2018 Youth Olympics in Argentina. Since then, it had been quiet until a couple of months ago when we heard that the Federation planned to launch a national futsal league so to find out more we got in contact with Duilio Gustavo Gimondo.
FF: Gustavo, can you tell everyone who you are and give them a bit about your background and involvement in Futsal?
DGG: My name is Duilio Gustavo Gimondo, I was born in Argentina, and I am a naturalised Dominican. I come from the world of architecture, and construction but my lifelong passion has been Futsal since I was very young, it is in my blood.
I live in a city called La Romana which is 100 km from our capital city Santo Domingo, and for more than 20 years I have been integrated into the active life of Soccer in our country, being a promoter in my region for this sport, and Futsal.
FF: The last we heard about futsal in the Dominican Republic was big plans for the sport in 2017, but this was stopped due to corruption at the Football Federation. Can you tell us more about this situation and how the Football Federation overcame these corruption problems?
DGG: After FIFA’s intervention which lasted for almost 15 months, we can emphatically affirm that we have turned our back to the corruption issues of the past.
We have the luxury of having one of the healthiest sport Federations in the country and in the region in general.
The current Fedofutbol president since January of 2020 is the honorable Rubén García, and the Secretary General is the invaluable Arturo Heinsen. Together with the Executive Committee, they make up the nucleus of our work set to the highest standards for football and futsal . Our country and the region can be proud of the Federation now.
FF: Where is futsal at now in terms of developing player pathways and supporting the national team and the creation of youth national teams of boys and girls to enjoy the sport and represent their country?
DGG: Futsal in the country has been growing for 10 years, with a lot of intensity especially at the school level and aided by the tremendous contribution of foreigners who have come to promote futsal. The participation numbers are increasing exponentially. At school, university students, and at the amateur level there are approximately 3,000 who play on different surfaces such as basketball courts, cement (or wood), synthetic grass, or handball courts. We still have a lot to do, but we are laying the foundations for the further development of Futsal because we want to put futsal in a strong position here in the Dominican and help to increase awareness of the sport in the region as well.
We are constantly searching for talented players at the local level, and especially internationally, that can help us to promote/improve our different National Teams both in the Male and Female branches.
An important development, in the short term by the Fedofutbol through its Secretary will be the announcement of a FIFA program for the development of Futsal at the school level, which will be implemented soon. Once the COVID protocols are made more flexible, or we have overcome the pandemic.
FF: We heard recently that a national futsal league is to be launched in the Dominican Republic, can you tell us more about this, who is involved in relation to sponsors, what clubs are involved and at what level is it launching? Is it amateur or professional?
DGG: For now, I don’t want to discuss this too much, though the National Futsal League is a priority project that the current Fedofutbol board of directors have. The times we live in now led us to have to slow down some steps, and put this on hold but we remain committed to develop it. There is a strong conviction by the Fedofutbol leaders that Futsal should be the engine that drives the development of future talent, for each and every one of the national teams of the country. A strong national league is important for this as well, the players at all ages need role models, pathways, opportunities and the chance to compete at the highest level possible domestically and internationally.
FF: What is the situation for futsal at CONCACAF? We see and hear people tweeting, posting and talking about their frustration with the sports development and lack of support in the region.
DGG: Without a doubt, the departure of Hugo Salcedo from CONCACAF has put a hand brake on the momentum that the region had been driving.
It will be up to the new CONCACAF administration to takes the pulse and momentum of the sport to drive it forward, and above all with passion, so that Futsal continues to take giant steps, and we can become a world benchmark for the sport. This is my wish, and the wishes of many others here in futsal. Futsal never stops, it always advances and grows, wherever there is a child and a ball, we will have Futsal!
FF: Looking ahead to the world cup qualifiers, how are preparations going for the match against Saint Kitts and Nevis? And, how does the FA view these qualifiers in terms of progressing the development of the national team and the sport’s awareness in their country?
DGG: The national team will start practicing in the next few days, the Covid protocols still don’t allow us to have continuous practice, but we are looking for rivals to play friendly matches with, and preparations will increase as the date of the tie approaches.
The national team is in the hands of the talented Argentinian coach Carlos Boccicardi since the 2018 Youth Olympics, where, for the first time, the female Futsal team achieved great results by drawing with Chile, being ahead of Japan, a finalist in the tournament along with Portugal.
One of the great challenges of this Federation in 2021 is to compete well at the qualifiers, and why not dream of overcoming our opening qualifier and the qualification group stage. We are convinced that step by step, we will make history. For our country, and for Futsal here. From this, participation will increase, and there will be good years to come for Futsal development in the Dominican Republic. That is our desire, and that is our project.
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