• Interview with Justinas Zagurskas a few months before the 2021 Futsal World Cup
  • The Lithuanian captain talks about his discovery of futsal and his ambitions for the world meeting
  • It details the advantages and disadvantages of postponing the competition

The 2021 FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania ™ kicks off on 12 September. Originally, the tournament was scheduled to take place in 2020, so the host country will have to wait another year. At the microphone of FIFA.com, the captain of Lithuania Justinas Zagurskas, talks about the Futsal World Cup and the discipline in general.

Justinas, where is Lithuanian futsal today?

With us, the discipline is not professional, but rather semi-professional. The World Cup nevertheless enabled local teams to take a further step towards professionalism. It can be seen when we observe the teams on the floor and the players called up to the national team: we are there to work, not to rest. The Lithuanian futsal community is growing. The movement is certainly not going to stop after the World Cup; on the contrary, it will strengthen.

Has the FIFA Futsal World Cup changed the image of futsal in Lithuania?

The media are more interested in us and the national team has received several interesting commercial offers. We ran our preparations very quickly as everyone was eager to host the tournament. From this point of view, we can only regret the postponement of one year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite everything, we remain in a very positive state of mind. We are determined to give the best of ourselves when the time comes.

Why did you choose futsal?

I played football for a long time, but health problems forced me to give up the lawn. This is where I turned to futsal. In my youth, I happened to play there. I even won a championship title during my schooling. I’ve always enjoyed futsal, but it wasn’t until I was 16 that I started to get involved seriously. It’s a fast-paced, dynamic sport with lots of goals and lots of tactical variation on set pieces. It is quite pleasant. I quickly got caught up in the game and that’s where it all got me.

What have you learned by playing against the biggest European clubs in the discipline?

Playing against Inter, Barcelona or Tyumen is an unforgettable experience. We will also find some high level opponents during the World Cup, which will allow us to continue our progress. First, we will learn to deal with the stress and pressure inherent in this type of competition. Playing against top clubs is a good way to prepare for the World Cup. We are working hard. The coach tells us not to be afraid. It reminds us that our adversaries are human, like us. On the floor, anything can happen, especially when you are motivated. We have obtained interesting results, but we still have a good room for improvement. These matches have enabled us to identify areas for improvement, both for the players and for technical support. We also made history by winning two straight victories. Beyond the results, it is the state of mind that we have shown in the field that is encouraging. The efforts made in training have borne fruit. In terms of confidence, it was all very beneficial. We are all very motivated and we will be able to rely on excellent preparation as we enter the final phase.

For a country like Lithuania, this World Cup represents an extraordinary event. We have never experienced anything like it and no one knows if we will have the opportunity to relive something similar one day.

Justinas Zagurskas

What are your ambitions for this FIFA Futsal World Cup?

There is still plenty of time before the tournament starts. We still have some way to go and therefore it is difficult for me to assess our chances. What I can say is that we will approach every game with the ambition to achieve a positive result. We will give everything.

How did you experience the postponement of the competition?

In a way, this is positive. We were given extra time to work on our weak points. On the other hand, it’s a shame because we were looking forward to this tournament very much. Last season some of us made significant personal sacrifices to prepare for the World Cup. Now everything has to be redone. But basically, it doesn’t matter: when the World Cup starts, we will give the maximum, whatever the year.

How would you describe Lithuania to a passing visitor?

I would start by recommending that he visit our big cities. Each has its own architecture and must-see sites. Moreover, I myself am a great lover of nature. I would therefore advise him to explore our countryside. To the fans who are planning to visit Lithuania during the tournament, I can say this: our country is very green. There are lots of green spaces, hills, fields, parks and sites that offer exceptional views of amazing landscapes. It is also possible to rent a hot air balloon to discover Lithuania from above.

What can this FIFA Futsal World Cup bring to Lithuania?

For the players, it’s a good opportunity to show off. Some internationals have already been contacted by foreign clubs and have negotiated contracts. For a country like Lithuania, this World Cup represents an extraordinary event. We have never experienced anything like it and no one knows if we will have the opportunity to relive something similar one day. In 2011, we organized a big basketball competition, the European Championship. But this is different: we are talking about a World Cup. If the health situation develops in a positive way, I hope that many people can come to Lithuania. This tournament will allow our country to gain notoriety. All over the world people are going to hear about Lithuania.

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