Wolves defender Max Kilman explains how Futsal aided his pathway into the pro game
Wolverhampton Wanderers defender Max Kilman has backed the new FA Futsal Strategy to make a long-term difference in our national game. With over 20 caps to his name for the England Futsal team, he explains how the game helped him to develop his technique, understanding and tactical awareness in football before his move into the professional game.
I first discovered the game of Futsal when I was around 14 or 15-years-old.
I was just in my local park at the time when I saw two people playing. I asked them if I could join in and they explained they were playing Futsal.
They were a bit older than me but they invited me down to a session with London Genesis. It was a bit of a drive over to east London so I went with my father, but it was worth it.
I just really enjoyed myself and kept going back every week as I gradually grew into it with playing more and more Futsal.
It’s the speed of the game that I love and you always have to attack the goal and defend the goal. It’s so intense and everything is happening really quickly and it’s so sharp.
- Born: London, 23 May 1997
- Club: Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Former Futsal clubs: London Genesis, London Helvecia
- Twitter: @Maximilian237
At the time, I was also playing football for Fulham’s academy and then I was at Gillingham after that, but I always tried to keep Futsal going as much as possible out of the enjoyment I got from it.
Nowadays, more and more football clubs are introducing Futsal for their younger players, which is great. When you look at countries like Spain, Portugal and Brazil, their kids start to play Futsal around the age of six or lower. Then, when they get to 13 or 14 they decide if they want to stick with Futsal or move to football, but they’re coming into football at that age with the ability to be good on the ball.
And Futsal definitely helped my football, especially when I was about 15 or 16. For example, before Futsal, I used to be a bit nervous getting the ball from a throw-in but Futsal helped me feel more aware, make a quicker decision and see the bigger picture.
A lot of people say Futsal improves you technically, but for me I found that it helped more on the tactical side as well. It makes you smarter, more aware and quicker in what you do and you’re thinking more during the game.
From Genesis, I joined London Helvecia and I first joined up with the England Futsal squad when I was about 18.
By that time I was playing football for Maidenhead’s youth team and the season after that, I was out on loan so I wasn’t even in the Maidenhead first-team squad.
But I had a lot of time for Futsal with my involvement at Helvecia and with England and there were some great experiences too.
I loved being involved in the World Cup qualifiers. First, we got through the preliminary round in Israel to become the first England team to do that, and even though we didn’t do great in the next round in Hungary, we were playing against some top nations and it was a crazy experience to see the highest level of Futsal against nations like Ukraine and Belgium.
The best moment for me was playing in the games away against Germany in 2016 in what was their first-ever Futsal internationals. We lost the first game, but when we drew 3-3 I scored the equaliser and that was a personal highlight.
It was around this point, when football wasn’t going so well for me, I thought it was something to consider that maybe I might end up as a Futsal player and move abroad to play professionally.
I kept my options open though and after breaking into the Maidenhead team last season, I joined Wolverhampton Wanderers in August as a professional.
I’ve been with Wolves for a few months now and it’s going really well. I’ve really enjoyed making the step into full-time football and I’m playing for the U23s, enjoying the hard work and trying to get better and better every day.
It means I can’t play for England at Futsal anymore, but I still speak to my old team-mates and I’m pretty close with them, so will always see how they’re doing with their clubs and follow them with England and wish them a bright future.
I owe Futsal a lot and hopefully, the new Futsal strategy can have an effect in England and get kids playing the game more regularly at a younger age. Rather than playing on big pitches, get them indoors more often and to be more in contact with the ball and other players and make better decisions and be more comfortable on the pitch.
It certainly helped me and I think it could do the same for so many others.