Futsal is commonly known as one of the popular sports of the younger generation and youths in the country, as is notably evident with people playing recreationally at futsal courts and halls.
Over the last couple of years, opportunities had been limited at best for aspiring futsal enthusiasts to enjoy the sport with their friends or families amid the closure of indoor and outdoor sports facilities brought by the coronavirus pandemic.
This also affected organisers hosting domestic national-level tournaments such as the Brunei Futsal League or Brunei Futsal Cup, which usually attract a huge following among a futsal-mad nation.
The successful completion of the Brunei Futsal Cup last year marked the revival of the sport in the country previously hit with cancellations including the Brunei Futsal League in 2021.
Last weekend, the Brunei Futsal League returned amid much fanfare with the first match between Kasuka & Ar Rawda and PES.
Twelve clubs will vie for top honours in the competition, held from February 4 to December 3 at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) Sports Complex and Ministry of Defence.
Since Kota Junior enjoyed a period of dominance in the country in the mid-2010s winning the futsal league twice and invited Malaysian guest team Kuantan Rangers won the top flight, the league will seek for a new champion this year.
Perwira, previously called MS ABDB, will be one of the title frontrunners having won the Brunei Futsal Cup in the last major domestic competition in the Sultanate.
The cup winners – comprising players serving the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Sports Council (MS ABDB) – are determined to showcase effective gameplay to achieve their target of winning the title while at the same time taste fierce competition from all teams.
The army personnel opened their season with a 2-0 win against Shah United last Tuesday.
Team Manager Major (U) Pengiran Haji Jufry Pengiran Haji Jaludin said, “Perwira have made complete preparations in physical and mental aspects to form players in a strong team.”
He added that nearly half of the team is lined up by new players while absorbing several under-21 players to take on the challenge of the Brunei Futsal League, which must be the best field to prove and showcase the superior performance of the military squad.
The manager said, “The experience of representing Brunei Darussalam at the AFF Futsal Club Championship will be a valuable asset for the team in the Brunei Futsal League.”
Meanwhile, Shah United introduced 14 new players, including three under-20 players to help the team to provide the sternest competitions throughout the league.
Assistant Manager Pengiran Aswandy bin Pengiran Sahdon said the combination of new and senior players will aid the team.
PES will be among the teams that will give the much-favoured opponents a good fight as they hope to produce a good finish this season.
Team Manager Haji Mohd Daud bin Haji Abdul Kadir said, “The players stand ready to begin their season in the Brunei Futsal League and subsequently tend the other teams in the league.”
The team has recruited six new players in the team including two under-20 players expected to strengthen the team.
In preparing for the league, PES held a series of friendly matches in addition to taking part in the Piala Keputeraan and the World Cup Fever Futsal tournaments to increase their understanding and form a much more solid team.
Haji Mohd Daud also expressed hopes to cement a good finish in the league as well as earn a berth in the 2024 Brunei Futsal League.
He continued, “The absorption of under-20 players is a step towards providing experience to the young players to take part in the national league as they will succeed the current group of players.
“Certainly there will be a lot of future challenges throughout the league competition, especially the line-up of other teams which will line up players with potential including foreign imports.
“However, Shah United have made preparations to make the team capable of providing competition to all teams in the Brunei Futsal League.”
The assistant manager agreed that the league will provide great competition because of the preparedness of the participating teams to help them reach the summit of the league.