AFC Futsal Championship was great for Taiwan, but games kicked off too early

The AFC Futsal Championship has just ended in Taipei, Taiwan with Iran defeating Japan in the final to maintain their dominance in this format of football throughout the region.

Taiwan hosted the tournament and it’s very pleasing to see the CTFA (Chinese Taipei Football Association) host and bring more football events to Taiwan than they ever have in the past seven years of my Taiwanese existence. I only managed to get to one game due to the early kick-off times but the tournament, in general, was great fun, and another excellent way of raising the profile of football on the island by the CTFA. The only criticism I had was the early kick-off times alienating a large majority of the population from being able to attend.

The first game kicked off at 4:30pm and the second kicked off at 7:00pm, by starting the first game at 4:30 you’re not giving many people who would like to go and watch the games much of a chance in doing so due to people working or studying. A large majority of Taipei and New Taipei will be at work, school, or university at that time.

Even the 7pm kick-off would have been problematic for a lot of people unless your workplace or school was very close to the venues. The traffic in Taipei is generally busy at the best of times, but between the hours of 6pm-7pm most of the city is clocking off work turning busy traffic into a non-moving collage of scooters, taxis, cars and busses, making the chances of catching the games near impossible if you are stuck in the middle of that traffic mess.

The one game I did manage to attend on the weekend was quite full, especially for the 7pm kick-off as Taiwan were playing against Malaysia. The audience was full of families, parents with their kids, or groups of football schools. This was great to see for the promotion of football in Taiwan in general.

However, the midweek games were totally different to what I saw on the weekend. From what I have seen on the TV, and what friends told me; is that the audience was very sparse with not many people there at all. Most adults were clearly at work like me, and most young people were either at school or university meaning they had no chance of going to watch the games even if they’d of liked to.

As public transport in Taipei is excellent with the MRT running up until midnight on most lines I think the games could have kicked off at later times considering each game was only 40 minutes long. This would have given more people a better opportunity of seeing them as I am sure a lot of people wished they could.

Regardless of the kick-off times, it was great to see the CTFA try to bring more football to Taiwan and hopefully they continue to do so. A few small tweaks here and there could get a lot more people coming out to watch the games/events live helping to bring football to a much wider audience and giving the game a better chance of growing in Taiwan.

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