The Czechs are vice-world champions in lesser-known football

Their sport is called football on foot. It’s not about ridiculing the fighters who dedicate themselves to it though, it’s about adapting to their age.

Football on foot is only played in the veteran categories and the Czech team passed the world’s first test of strength in the prestigious under-60 category.

Even the rules are adapted. It is played 2 x 20 minutes on a quarter of the football field with five players on the field and a goalkeeper with hockey substitutions. The events take place only on a promenade, which is supervised, other arrangements also differ. For example, they cannot enter the goal area. There are differences, even quite significant. But that’s football. With all its glamour, commitment, technical talent and drama.

She was born and began to develop strongly in 2010-2012 in England, and last August the first World Cup took place, organized by the national football training center of England, St. Parc Georges.

Invitation accepted

The event is managed by the world organization FIWFA, which however has not reached an agreement with FIFA to take under its auspices this special branch, as well as futsal, beach soccer and other alternatives to football. Nevertheless, the invitations for the first year went around the world, one even arrived in Prague and was accepted.

The Czech national team could participate quite officially. “We have signed a cooperation protocol with FAČR in order to be able to represent Czech football with state symbols,” reveals the relationship with the highest body of Czech football, Pavel Červený, responsible for veteran selections. “The association paid the participation fees for us and also had its representative in the delegation,” he added.

Each of the participants could nominate 12 players for the championship, but the Czech team did not take advantage of this and left with 11 selected. “The focus is on performance,” says Červený. “The English chose from a thousand candidates, they had been together for a year and a half and played a lot of preparatory matches. They treated the championship in a very prestigious way”, reveals the approach of the home team. “We got together in a few meetings and got going,” he reveals.

Three players who had a professional contract during their active career could be nominated. “The former Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper, for example, didn’t join the English team,” Červený reveals.

Gibal top scorer

The Czech selection took full advantage of the opportunity to name three former professionals. And he went to England with confidence in his own abilities. “A great group formed, on and off the pitch, everyone knew they could play football,” says one of the former professionals, defender Aleš Bažant, who played in the top competition Czech and the former federal competition of Dukla, Sparta and Vitkovice.

The idea that a star with an active career will automatically shine even later in life and easily overshadow amateurs is wrong. “First of all, the physical condition changes a lot,” says Červený, a former player for Slavia and Viktoria Žižkov youth teams, who also took on the coaching role.

It also paid off to rely on the desire of the elect to prove something. “Many fans think that after the end of an active career, a footballer should retire and do nothing more,” Bažant said. “But football is a life-long activity, so we are very happy that such events are organized for us, born earlier, even at the highest level. It was the World Cup!” stresses the importance of the event.

The Czech selection did not lose against him. He not only won a silver medal, but Roman Gibala also became the league’s top scorer with nine hits and received a valuable award.

It was perhaps his health problems in the final against England that robbed the Czech national team of their greatest triumph. “Unfortunately I strained a muscle early on and couldn’t play at full power,” lamented the championship shooter.

The only representative

Only former right-back Aleš Bažant knew what it means to play for the national A team in an international game. In the failed qualification for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, he suffered a 0:2 defeat in Sweden.

Now he could remember a beautiful moment. “I guess I represented Czech football again and I’m proud of that,” he agrees. And the matches included all the essential elements: the national flag, the national anthem. “Such an experience will never become ordinary,” admits Bažant.

Czech team in the championship

  • Group results: England 2-4, Rwanda 3-0, Egypt 3-1, Spain 2-1, Saudi Arabia 3-0, Wales 8-2, Australia 8-0
  • Quarter-finals: Jersey 1:0. Semi final: Italy 1-0
  • Final: 1:1 (second kick 1:2)
  • Line-up: Karel Řezáč, Daniel Šimberský, Roman Gibala, Karel Kocián, Michal Jirán, Antonin Petrák, Petr Pohnán, Aleš Bažant, Tomáš Holeček, Petr Čížek, Karel Haškovec
  • Coach and manager: Pavel Cerveny

It was a successful performance. “Duels against England, Italy or Spain are prestigious at all levels and a victory over one of them is valued,” he says proudly in his voice. However, this was a world championship and the team will also face exotic opponents. For example, Rwanda in Africa. “You don’t know what to expect from her, she has no experience,” admits Bažant. “There are 195 centimeter guys in front of you, you think they are 20 years old, but they are on the eve of their 60s,” he jokes about this interesting fight.

The Czech team reached the final, where they again faced England, against whom they lost in the opening core group duel. This time the match ended amicably. “We were leading, it’s a shame,” regrets Bažant not having finished this game which started well with victory.

There were shots from the penalty spot, in which Czech (and former Czechoslovakian) players are champions. At the representative level, they have never failed in the greatest trials. So far in the fight for veteran gold. After the first series of three attempts, no decision was made, followed by a shootout.

Who in the team has first league experience

  • Aleš BAŽANT, 59, defender

Premier League 1982-1992: 169 games, 7 goals (Dukla, Sparta, Vitkovice)

Representation: 1 game (06/05/1985, Sweden-Czechoslovakia 2:0, qualification for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico)

  • Roman GIBALA, 50, midfielder

Premier League 1994-2004: 183 matches, 18 goals (Drnovice, Cheb, Hradec Králové, Žižkov)

  • Michal JIRÁŇ, 53, midfielder

Premier League 1990/1991: 3 games, 0 goal (Bohemians)

And only one former representative failed. He thus violated historical tradition. “However, I wouldn’t make a comparison,” says Bažant. “These are very different conditions, the goal is kicked with dimensions of 5 x 2 meters, and moreover from the point, no momentum, only a step”, he emphasizes, pointing out that Panenko’s setter (Vršovice dlobák) is unusable. “I didn’t,” sighs Bažant.

The English became world champions, the Czechs finished second. “It’s also a huge success,” Bažant points out.

John Robinson

"Extreme gamer. Food geek. Internet buff. Alcohol expert. Passionate music specialist. Beeraholic. Incurable coffee fan."

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