The Hard Yards

in Sport Insight

Lynx FC’s sporting director and head of Futsal, Karl Zarb reveals his trials and tribulations to Gibraltar Insight.

An accountant by profession since the age of 18 and currently the finance manager for a local construction company he was to find his true passion in Futsal when he was 14 years old (24 years ago now) in the old futsal league where he used to play as a goalkeeper and since then he knew it was meant to be. Unfortunately, futsal in Gibraltar ceased and for many years he was unable to enjoy the sport locally until 2013 when Gibraltar became UEFA’s 54th member and to his delight, Futsal returned to the rock. Futsal is a fast-paced, intense, and adrenaline-driven sport and that is what made me fall in love with the sport.

The team that has impressed him the most was Rock 54. The team was to become one of his initiatives whilst with the Gibraltar FA Futsal Committee, to help develop young local players for the futsal national squad. The team was made up of 17-20-year-olds who had no knowledge or experience in futsal and to see them learn and develop at the pace they did it is the highlight of his career in futsal. Many of these players have been or are now part of the Gibraltar National squad and that makes him extremely proud. Although I was very young at the time the best local futsal player for me must be Louisito Bonavia

In 2013 when Gibraltar joined UEFA and futsal was re-established locally, Karl decided to form his futsal team called Gib Scorpions FC where he worked extremely hard on this project and spent close to 4 months scouting players. He built a team that went unbeaten the full season and was the first to qualify and compete in the UEFA Futsal Cup. A very inexperienced team for the standard of futsal we experienced but they did extremely well and managed a draw in their final match.

The high was the huge amount of success we had in such a short time. The low was having to give up the project he had worked so hard for to join the Gibraltar FA Futsal Committee, but he was confident that it was the best move to continue progressing in his futsal career

In 2014 Karl was given the opportunity by the previous futsal president to join his committee and he did not hesitate to take on the challenge and help develop futsal in Gibraltar. He spent three and a half years working with the committee and he is extremely proud of everything he managed to do and achieve during that time. Having organised two FC Barcelona Futsal Camps with the attendance of Ferrao (current best futsal player) seeing close to 120 children enjoying themselves and a futsal coaching clinic with five of the world’s best futsal coaches were definitely the highlights during his time. He would have loved to be able to carry out some of the other projects in his development plan which included developing youth futsal as the key to success for the future but unfortunately, his expectations and ambitions were far higher than those of the Gibraltar FA and he, therefore, decided to call time.

Karl presented many ideas and projects to the Gibraltar FA but most importantly keeping in line with youth development, was the creation of a futsal academy and the introduction of futsal at schools but was not approved. When he left the Gibraltar FA, he knew there was only one club he could join that would match his ambitions and that was Lynx FC.

Karl once quoted “It was the easiest and best decision I have ever made in my futsal career, from day one I was welcomed as part of the family and have always received full support in everything I have proposed and decisions I made. I am confident that together we will achieve great success both on and off the field. The team spirit, desire to win and the discipline within Lynx FC is what makes us such a formidable force locally. My ambition and aim in the next 5 years are to continue building and developing a squad that will very soon be able to compete at the highest level and be able to progress in the UEFA Futsal Champions League. There are many areas Gibraltar must improve on, but Youth and coach development are at the top of that list”

Covid has been a disaster for futsal especially in Lynx’s preparations for this season’s UEFA Futsal Champions League. Re-scheduling of matches, cancellation of training allocations, limited training resources, travel restrictions and financial uncertainty are just some of the negative effects of covid. Constraints accelerate skill development. Just as the constraints of futsal force players to develop creativity and better ball-handling skills, constraints in our lives often force us to make choices and cultivate talents that would otherwise go undeveloped.

At the beginning of last season, both Karl Zarb and CEO Jonathan Costa discussed the possibility of providing exposure of the Lynx FC brand abroad and at the same time provide a higher playing field for their players, through matches and training opportunities. In January Lynx FC visited Manchester Futsal where three of our players had the opportunity to train with their squad and planned to return to play in a tournament in the following months but unfortunately, covid has put a halt on their projects in Manchester. Since then, Lynx FC had the privilege of competing in a tournament in Portugal against the likes of Braga Futsal.  Further development opportunities are still on the horizon for their players next week when they travel to Andorra to play some matches against the current champions FC Encamp in preparation for the UEFA Champions League at the end of November.

Karl Zarb has had his hands full this season and has surely stamped his name in the history of Futsal but we know nothing is impossible in Karl’s books as he later went to state “Constraints accelerate skill development; Just as the constraints of futsal force players to develop creativity and better ball-handling skills, constraints in our lives often force us to make choices and cultivate talents that would otherwise go undeveloped.”

For further information, please contact the club on lynxfc@mail.com or 200 69695.

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