It may have originated in the favelas of South America, but one Lancashire teenager has become the first female futsal scholar in the region.
Jade Elliott, from Clayton Brook, near Chorley, is following in the footsteps of Lionel Messi and Ronaldo to master the art of futsal, a modified form of football played indoors.
The 17-year-old has become the first girl to join the Football League Trust powered football scholarship in the North West playing for Blackburn Rovers and holding down a place in an otherwise all male team.
Now, the sports ace has set her sights on the professional ranks and dreams of becoming the first female manager in the Premier League.
She said: “Before futsal I had only played football for girls teams now I am in a team with a group of lads.
“Being the only girl was an obstacle I had to overcome to do something I love.
“I’ve been called names, but I have just brushed it off and I feel like I have fitted in well.
“I started futsal because I wanted to improve my strength and apply it to my 11-a-side game.
“It has built up my strength and my technical ability has improved.
“Now my biggest aim is to get girls playing futsal to help aid their footballing game and don’t let playing with lads determine their decision as to not playing.”
Jade is currently studying a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Sport as part of Blackburn Rovers’ futsal and education programme.
Two of the greatest footballers in the world - Real Madrid galáctico Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona star Lionel Messi - both started out playing futsal in Portugal and Argentina.
The game has spread from it’s birthplace in South America to Southern Europe and it is growing in popularity in England.
Now Jade - who is also a talented freestyle footballer - is aiming for the top.
She said: “I joined the Blackburn Rovers scholarship and they are helping me get my level one and level two coaching badges.
“I want to be a coach. I want to coach a men’s team and there are no female managers in the football league.
“It is my dream to be the first female manager in the Premier League.
“I am also focusing and aiming to get a girls team for the new coming season in September and I am so far heading in a successful direction.
“I have been watched by the England FA last year with my Futsal and I am now pushing to aim high with my freestyle football.
“I would say to any girl that wants to improve as a footballer to just give it a go and try it.”
Futsal originated on the basketball courts of South America in 1930 when Juan Carlos Ceriani Gravier, a teacher in Uruguay, created a version of indoor football for recreation in YMCAs. It is played on a smaller pitch and usually indoors. It is played between two teams of five players each.
It is played with a smaller ball and unlike some other forms of indoor football, the game is played on a hard court and walls or boards are not used putting greater emphasis on ball control and passing in small spaces.