Two University of Worcester students have been called up to the England Universities futsal squad.
Chris Bright, 27, from Redditch, and Alessandro Costa, also 27, from Cagliari - Italy, both play for the University of Worcester's Futsal Club, which competes in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) league. The England Universities squad is made up of the 20 best players currently studying in higher education in the country.
Chris is studying for a Masters in Sport & Exercise Science at Worcester and is the founder of The Diabetes Football Community " an international support group to help people living with diabetes to pursue their passion for the sport whilst managing the condition. He has also previously represented Wales at full international level in futsal.
"It's been a difficult injury hit 18 months for me personally and a lot of hard work has gone into getting back to a physical condition to allow me to compete at this level," he said, "so I'm excited about the prospect of joining up with the England squad."
"It's also an amazing reflection on the quality of the futsal programme at the University of Worcester that two players were selected from our team," Chris added.
Futsal is a version of five-a-side football played on a hard court, smaller than a football pitch, and mainly indoors.
The University of Worcester team has been breaking new ground this season with a string of impressive results that have recently seen them win the BUCS Conference Cup for the first time - with Chris scoring five in the final - and brought them to within touching distance of an unprecedented league and cup double.
Alessandro Costa is in his first year of a Sport & Exercise Science degree at the University, having previously enjoyed a career as a professional futsal player in leagues across Europe. Alessandro won the Futsal Super League during an earlier spell with Birmingham Futsal Club, and also played his part in Worcester's recent cup success, scoring in the final.
"I came to Worcester because of the great opportunities there are with both sport and study," Alessandro said. "I thought the futsal programme was very impressive, and I wanted to complete a sports science degree to allow me to work in futsal full time in the future, so the Sport & Exercise Science degree at Worcester was an attractive option for me."
"Futsal is a fantastic spectacle," he added. "It's a fast-paced sport. Time and space are limited, and as a player I love how that challenges my intelligence and decision-making."
Paul McHugh is captain of the University's futsal team, as well as the co-founder and Chairman of Worcester Futsal Club, the City's leading futsal setup. Himself a full international with the England visually impaired futsal squad, Paul is one of many who are working to develop futsal in the City.
"We are very proud of Alessandro and Chris," he said. "It's great for futsal, both at the uni" and throughout the City more widely, to have two of our players recognised in this way."
"When I began studying at Worcester there wasn't a lot of futsal provision in the region, that's why I established Worcester Futsal Club in addition to playing for the University team - to bring the fun of futsal to the whole community," he added.