Mobor (Goa): Manchester United legend Paul Scholes believes that the level of the game in the ongoing Premier Futsal was much higher than any other tournament he has seen before.
Scholes, who like Ryan Giggs played his entire professional football career for Manchester United, was speaking to reporters here. He is part of the ongoing Premier Futsal which has reached the semi-finals stage.
"I was asked to (play) and it (is) an exciting game. I did play in China about 18 months ago, but not to this level. The level I have seen here is much higher than any futsal I have seen before. There are very skillful players and next time, I will be more ready for it," he said.
"It was quite difficult. But this (Futsal) is totally different game, it’s a small game (and) you have to be quick, you (also) need to defend and also have to be attacking to score goals at a very small goal post.
"The standard of play has been really good and there are exciting players and when you watch this players, it is hard to understand why they are (not) playing proper football rather than Futsal," said the 41-year-old former midfield maestro at Old Trafford.
Echoing views of English futsaller Doug Reed and his former Manchester United teammate Giggs, Scholes said Futsal is similar to Twenty 20 cricket.
Asked if Premier Futsal has the potential to achieve what Indian Premier League has done to cricket in India, Scholes, who has played cricket in his younger days, said, "Yeah, I hope so. It should do it, Indian people like that form (Twenty 20), it is very quick, exciting with fours and sixes all the time.
"That's very similar on a futsal side, it (requires) quick skills and (has) fantastic goals, it is very similar to Twenty20 cricket (and) we all know cricket is popular in India. If we can get football and futsal sides even close to cricket, there is a chance in years to come that India will produce similarly good footballers," he said.
On his experience with Indian players, Scholes said, "I hope so (my presence and experience has helped them). The point is to try and get young Indian players playing more. From what I have seen in my team, they (Indians) are very studious and trying to learn all the time, and some of the Indian players have scored quite a few goals in this tournament," he added.
Asked if he was familiar with Indian football, Scholes quipped, "Not really."
"(It's) first time that I met some of these futsal (players). We don't really follow and (the sport) is not popular in England, there may be couple of (futsal) leagues in England. From now on, I will start watching (the sport) and there is World Cup in September."
On whether he would like to come for the Premier Futsal next season, Scholes said, "Yeah, it has been a really enjoyable two weeks. Whether I am interested to make (to the next season) I am not sure, it’s been great two weeks. On football side it's not been a good experience but I have been watching some great players."
Asked what India needs to do in football, Scholes said the country should focus on the grassroot, from children of 4-5-6 years of age, and inculcate interest of the sport on them.
"It is difficult when cricket is the main sport. It is difficult to introduce another sport, but with the help of ISL, bringing players, hopefully attract more people to the game and if you can start the coaching early it will be a big benefit."
Asked about his future plans apart from Futsal, Scholes said, "Just continue as a pundit. If there is something that interests me on the coaching side, then possibly (take up the job). There has not been anything so far."
Scholes said he has no doubt that Ryan Giggs will be a "brilliant manager" but it's up to him to decide what he (Giggs) wants to do....