Taking Brunei futsal to new heights

Fadhil Yunus

Haji Puspa bin Haji Mohammad, a futsal coach and founder of Puspa United Soccer Academy (PSA), is a widely recognised figure in the futsal circle in Brunei Darussalam.

The 62-year-old boasts a futsal resume with a collection of coaching badges certified by highly profiled organisations such as FIFA and Asian Football Confederation (AFC), among others.

Haji Puspa has obtained a FIFA Futsal Coaching and AFC Futsal Coaching Licence and is certified as a Gol Brasil futsal instructor, FIFA Grassroots instructor and in FIFA Management and Administration, while being a holder of various accreditation certificates from Brazil and Australia.

In 2000, Haji Puspa formed his own futsal team Puspa United FT and enjoyed silverware, having scooped up numerous trophies in local charity tournaments such as the His Majesty Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam Futsal Cup Championship and a runner-up finish in the FORD Trophy.

As Haji Puspa’s belief and confidence in the development of futsal in the country and the potential of the game grew, he focussed more on training and teaching players.

As testament to this, Haji Puspa established and registered a company under the name Puspa United Soccer Academy in 2004 at the then-Ministry of Finance for valid futsal business activities.

The futsal instructor, who is also a Technical Director in Gol Brasil Brunei Darussalam, holds futsal sessions at the Peak Performance Sdn Bhd following a contract signing in 2016. Futsal activities have since been cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“From 2016 until 2020, we succeeded in signing a contract of cooperation with Peak Performance Sdn Bhd, which before this was known as Royal Brunei Recreation Club (RBRC) for the development of Junior Futsal,” said Haji Puspa.

“In addition, we also signed a training contract with a futsal club in Brunei Darussalam as preparation for their main players to compete in the National Futsal League. In 2017, we started to hold a futsal coaching community course with Gol Brasil Australia.

“In 2019, PSA teamed up with Gol Brasil Futsal Institute (GBFI) and a world futsal organisation Asociacion Mundial de Futsal (AMF), Asucion, Paraguay with cooperation of Gol Brasil Futsal and Vikings Futsal Sdn Bhd in Sarawak, Malaysia,” he continued.

Haji Puspa shared new training methodologies in 2018 to complement the ones being practised at the time in a futsal clinic organised by PSA with the support of Gol Brasil and Vikings Futsal Sdn Bhd.

The futsal training introduced a system and methodology from Gol Brasil which used the concept of drilling in addition to the system used by FIFA and AFC which are known as basic training, functional training and advance training.

Haji Puspa hopes that the programme will develop futsal players mainly at grassroots level to make Brunei a leading futsal country, recognised for its technical competence and playing a distinctive futsal style. “We created an ideal programme for players where they can learn comfortably, express themselves and develop high technical skills. It is also designed to harness talent and cultivate personal qualities in futsal and in life,” he said.

Haji Puspa’s decorated profile also made him a natural choice for the Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) Brunei’s women team head coach role in the same year.

He led the team to a silver medal in the Standard Chartered Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“In 2019, PSA and GBFI marked an important milestone in the development of coaching activities to clubs and communities in Kuching and other territories in Sarawak,” he said.

As part of community outreach programmes, Haji Puspa was entrusted to conduct the Gol Brasil Futsal Level 0 and Level 1 Community Coaching Course at Kampong Tupong Hall in November 2019.

“This demonstrated that our progress is not only limited in Brunei Darussalam but also to other countries,” he added.

In 2020, Haji Puspa said that PSA built cooperation with the international futsal scene after completing an agreement with the Australian Futsal Association (AFA) to develop futsal in Brunei Darussalam. “We jointly agreed to organise exchange team visits between Brunei and Australia as one of our yearly futsal activities.

“Furthermore, this will help promote Brunei Darussalam through futsal tourism.”

Having dedicated most of his career to futsal, Haji Puspa said that his fondest memory was when one of his students Ameer Abdul Muezz bin Mohd Amiruddin received praise from Liverpool FC legend Ian Rush.

“Ameer Abdul Muezz’s father brought him to train with the Liverpool FC International Academy last year and Ian Rush praised him.”

In his training form, Rush wrote, “He shows excellent dribbling ability with both feet and was helped with his lightning pace. A very creative players who has lots of potential, well done.”

Once the COVID-19 pandemic ends, Haji Puspa hopes to continue his futsal training and will develop training facilities in all four districts.