Introducing Gingasports Brand Ambassador - Richard Ward, England Futsal Player
Richard Ward was born in Leeds in 1991 and grew up in Durham.
Richard went on to study for a Masters in Maths with Spanish at the University of Sheffield - this included a year in Barcelona on the Erasmus program.
When he was 15, Richard played for a team and won a regional futsal tournament but then forgot about futsal. In retrospect the ball was an 11-a-side ball, the rules were not the same, but it was indoors and the goals were futsal goals. Fast forwarding to his time at university, Richard managed to make the University of Sheffield futsal team where he gained his first taste of the high pace, technical, exhilarating sport which futsal is, and he then went on to train with the Sheffield FC Futsal team. There he was training with Internationals, as well as foreign players who were on another level tactically and technically. Players like Ben Mortlock, Oli Wheatley-O’Neil and Ryon Leyshon had experience at the International level as did goalkeepers Curtis Holmes and Joonas Puolamaki who represented England and Finland respectively. Those players were an inspiration to Richard, not only in their ability, but in their desire to continuously learn and improve, as well as their professionalism. Richard had a fantastic time with Sheffield FC and helped them to finish 2nd and 3rd Nationally.
After Sheffield FC, Richard trained with a team in Barcelona and was able to train three times a week and improve his game and fitness immensely over the course of a season. From there he returned to Sheffield FC where, under the mentorship of Daniel Berdejo-del-Frenso, he really pushed himself mentally. Richard was required to take more responsibility for the team and with Daniel's support he managed to break into the England development side.
Richard attended England development camps and continued with Sheffield FC, managing to get his first senior call-up in September 2014. From here, he made his debut away in Montenegro in October 2014. Richard came into a side where every player was at the top of their game and the team was very close-knit which made it a bit more challenging. But, with Ben Mortlock and Daniel in the set-up they helped him acclimatise and introduce him to the International level.
After Sheffield, Richard joined Manchester Futsal team. The team had a lot of great young players who had fantastic ability, as well as some seniors who had helped Manchester achieve success through the long standing competition from Sheffield. The season was up and down, but gave Richard a great insight into a club set up which was entirely professional through all youth levels, and had some strong leaders behind the scenes helping to push the club forwards, as well as an amazing court and venue.
After Manchester, Richard moved to London, where Raoni Medina of Helvecia encouraged him to join the team having spoken on their trips away with England. It was like joining Manchester United of the futsal world, all the best players managed to play for Helvecia and Richard was surrounded by players who had won countless matches in the English league. Richard hit the ground running and they managed to win the league in his first season.
At this point, Richard made an effort to try and play professionally in Italy however, the club let go of the International players they had invested in. Despite only returning to Helvecia in the January, Richard managed to finish joint top scorer for the team, and helped the team to win the FA cup. Richard has also managed to accrue 54 International appearances, scoring 21 goals for England. Nothing has brought him more pride and satisfaction than representing his country and helping them to win matches.
Richard has won the English futsal league and FA cup twice and, having made his way onto the wall of caps at the FA headquarters for making 50 appearances, his dream, on a personal level, would be to make 100 appearances. In the short to medium term, Richard would like to see England qualifying to a major International competition, and help boost the profile of the sport in this country!