University of Nottingham player and former Club Committee President, Sam McGrath, has returned to the club following a season at Tranmere Rovers Futsal Club. We spoke to McGrath to discuss on his past, present and future.
Welcome back to University of Nottingham Futsal. What led you to your decision to return to the club and what does it mean to be back?
It means a lot for me personally to be back involved with UoN. This is the place where I first experienced Futsal and in terms of coming back, it was an easy decision to make. I know the city and the club well and there’s no other place where I can get the level of education combined with high quality Futsal that I will receive here. Nottingham and UoN Futsal especially gave me a lot during my 3 years at university and I hope to repay this both on and off the court.
University of Nottingham Futsal has increasing become known for being a high quality environment to develop and provide opportunities for home-grown talent. Is that something that excited you?
Of course. I have seen how the environment created at UoN since I left has allowed young, British players such as myself to thrive. The challenge of playing alongside some of the best young players in the country is something I am really looking forward to.
You played an influential role at Tranmere Rovers Futsal last season finishing as the club’s top goalscorer with 19 goals in 21 games. How did you find your experience at Prenton Park?
I really enjoyed my season with Tranmere Rovers. As a Football club they are making huge strides and their Futsal programme plays a big part in that. I think it was important for me to gain experience and taught me a lot. Despite a difficult year I really progressed personally at Tranmere and I was proud to captain the team and be the clubs top scorer. They have some talented young players and I’m really looking forward to returning to Prenton Park with UoN this year.
University of Nottingham Futsal had an incredibly successful year last season including gaining promotion to the BUCS Premiership for the first time. What are you most looking forward to about re-joining the club this season?
I was of course delighted to hear about the 1st teams promotion to the BUCS premiership and would like to congratulate everyone involved. I strongly believe that University futsal is already one of the key drivers behind the growing popularity of the sport. I am keen to test myself against the best University players in the country. Personally I am very excited for the league matches against our local rivals Nottingham Trent as well as the Varsity match, which Im sure will build on the success of last year. Having both Nottingham teams in the top division will raise the competition, as well as showing that for any potential student interested in Futsal, Nottingham is the place to be.
Have you began preparing for the season throughout the summer and how are you feeling going into pre-season?
I have begun a personal fitness regime and I’m confident that by the time we start pre season, I will be close to the level I was at before the end of last season. I am very excited for the beginning of pre season, having a good pre-season will be key for me personally as competition within the squad will be the highest I have ever known it, and to establish myself as a regular will be extremely tough.
The University of Nottingham Futsal squad is largely unchanged from last season with a few new additions. Are there any players in particular you are looking forward to playing with?
As I said before the squad is looking as strong as I have ever seen it. I can’t wait to see the progression of the lads I’ve played with before, like James Cullimore who has come on leaps and bounds since I left the club. Pav Tomczak had proved himself one of the top pivots in the country, and I’m sure I will learn a lot from him and was happy to hear of his appointment as the national league captain. I am excited to play alongside experienced England age group players such as Jonathan Alvarez, Tom Gascoyne and Joe Payne. Hopefully playing and training alongside this calibre of player week in week out will really push my game forward.
What expectations do you put on yourself when going into the season?
In terms of the expectations I place on myself, I hope to establish myself as one of the first names on the team sheet. I expect to build on the improvements to my game I made at Tranmere, and therefore hope this year I can really push for further including potentially opportunites beyond club level. I hope to take all the knowledge I can from the experienced coaching team, and am excited and grateful for the chance to work with Marc, one of the most exciting and respected coaches in the English game. I believe this team should be competing to win every game it plays whether it be National League, BUCS Premier or Cup competitions and I will do everything I can.