The National Futsal Series is heading fast towards the play-offs after a tightly fought season that spanned the length and breadth of England. The Women’s Super Series has been tightly fought this season, with the eight-team league quickly becoming six after two teams could not keep up with the travel.
The season has seen an abundance of talent from both old and new faces, with some highs and lows across the board. As an exciting season draws to a close, commentator Isaac Barrington makes his pick for an All-Star Women’s National Futsal Series team.
Alice Harkness-Armstrong (Bloomsbury) Northern Irish goalkeeper Alice Harkness-Armstrong has once again been a standout keeper in the Women’s Tier One. When Bloomsbury have struggled in the latter part of the season, Harkness-Armstrong has been on hand to pull off save after save until her side are able to find the breakthrough.
Calm and collected on the ball, Harkness-Armstrong is a presence on the court and isn’t afraid to cause a bit of chaos driving forward with the ball from keeper restarts. She’s not a keeper that any pivot looks forward to facing.
Isaac: “I think Alice has turned out to be one of the signings of the season. The stability she has provided to the Bloomsbury team has really allowed them to kick on how they have this season.”
Adriana Caboz (Birmingham) Adriana has been as consistent for Birmingham this year as she was last. Despite coming back from an injury early on, she looked anything but rusty, and has continued to guard the Brum goal with extreme efficiency.
A keeper who can set off her team short, or throw with great accuracy, you wouldn’t be surprised to see Caboz put a goal to her name against a team playing fly – an all-rounder.
Isaac: “The Portuguese shot-stopper has very rarely made a mistake on the big stage, and Birmingham have conceded the least goals in the Women’s Tier One so far this season as well.”
Emma Tune (London Helvecia) Emma offers so much on the futsal court for Helvecia. Dropping to fix out of necessity this season, her ability to read and impact the game makes this transition look seamless.
A quiet but extremely effective player on the court, Tune is one of the most consistent players for Helvecia and more widely in the National Futsal Series, providing a threat going forward and a solid defensive base from which her team can build.
Isaac: “The Helvecia captain is such an experienced, consistently high-quality performer. Emma seems to make everything look so simple, oozing class every time she steps onto the court.”
Angie Morley (Birmingham) Another understated player who provides consistent leadership for her side is Angie Morley. Coming back from injury at the beginning of the season, Morley has led her team to another successful season conclusion.
A cool head on the ball, her ability to pick out passes and create space for her teammates with her own movement often goes nearly unnoticed in high-speed games, but is certainly a large part of Birmingham’s success.
Isaac: “Off the back of lifting the trophy last year, Angie has again been excellent for Birmingham this season. As captain she really is the glue between the five on court, and plays so many minutes in every match as well.”
Tessa Leong (Bloomsbury) The New Zealand international has added flair to the Bloomsbury ranks this season. Her flair on the court makes her exciting to watch, as well as impossible to play against.
Scoring six goals in seven appearances, the winger slash pivot not only creates opportunities for herself, but also lifts the levels of the team which sees Bloomsbury also able to break down their opposition with style.
Isaac: “One of many Bloomsbury summer signings, Tessa is everything any team in the league would want from a wide player. She’s also Bloomsbury’s top goalscorer this season – a difficult task in such a strong side.”
Sarah Hazell (Birmingham) One of Birmingham’s most consistent players last season, Hazell has gone from strength to strength in the new year. Netting ten goals in eight appearances, Hazell’s ability to pick out penetrating passes, coupled with her excellent movement and defensive abilities makes her a standout player in the NFS.
Isaac: “I think Sarah has been back to her best this season after injury last year. She’s a really strong all-rounded player, both in possession and whilst defending as well.”
Hannah Kraakman (Bloomsbury) Kiwi, Hannah Kraakman, has been a key figure in Bloomsbury’s strongest five, so unsurprising that she makes the All-Star team. Another calm figure on the ball, Kraakman isn’t afraid to take on players one-on-one while also providing stability to calm the game.
Extremely strong technically, with a fantastic first touch and exceptional game understanding Kraakman has been a big reason as to why Bloomsbury look so comfortable in possession this season.
Isaac: “Another one of Bloomsbury’s summer additions, and I think just as deserving of a spot in the All-Star’s team. She hit the ground running right from the off and has excelled in her performances ever since.”
Kayleigh Tonks (Southampton Aztecs) Kayleigh Tonks has a propensity to create something from nothing for the struggling Aztecs. Her speed on the wing allows her to drive past players and into the danger zone, with that efficiency evidenced by the four goals she’s scored this season, as well as the defensive performances she’s put in for a side who are usually under the cosh.
Isaac: “Despite her team’s difficult season, I think Kayleigh deserves a spot in the side because of the individual quality she’s shown on such a consistent basis. No defender in the league would want to play against her – that speaks for itself. “
Jade Grove (Hartpury) An imposing presence on the court, Grove perfectly suits the way Hartpury play. An exceptionally strong player with her back to goal, her hold up play and ability to pull in her teammates to create opportunities is second to none in the league.
A handful for fixes and the occasional referee, Grove has been a big reason why Hartpury have pushed higher-placed teams right to the end this season.
Isaac: “As top goalscorer in the Women’s Tier One this season, the Hartpury pivot was one of the first names on the All-Star’s team sheet. She is the most crucial player to any one side in the league, and always such a handful for any team to defend against.”
Charlotte Gurr (London Helvecia) Despite making less appearances for Helvecia this season, Gurr certainly is value for money when she does. Often underrated perhaps due to her unfussy playing style, Gurr is an exceptional player with the ability to fashion chances from seemingly impossible situations.
Pair her ability with a Helvecia side who are more than comfortable in playing the ball forward and getting around the pivot, Gurr is a constant threat in front of goal, evidenced by her position as top goalscorer in the side.
Isaac: “I think the quality that Charlotte has on court speaks for itself. She’s a very intelligent player and possesses a constant goal threat too.”
Liam Francis & Ryan Walsh (Bloomsbury) From a relegation scare to one of the strongest teams in the league, the Bloomsbury duo have certainly turned things around. With a group of girls who clearly buy into their vision and ethos, Francis and Walsh have created a top environment which caters for both elite players and developing youngsters alike.
Isaac: “The job that both Liam and Ryan have done at Bloomsbury this season has been absolutely excellent, especially given the turnaround from last season. When at their best, Bloomsbury have been the most eye-catching team to watch.”
Tessa Leong – Sarah Hazell
Manager – Liam Francis