Because the game is played on a rectangle with goals placed on each end, the playing surface for a game of futsal looks every bit like a soccer field.
But when you consider the garbage can and the soda machine resting just inches off the sideline in one corner, the restroom doors and water fountains serving as part of the out-of-bounds line on the opposite end, and the massive, exposed ductwork overhead, the atmosphere for watching a futsal game will never be mistaken for the World Cup finals.
If that level of play, however, is what a youth soccer player aspires to reach, playing futsal – a soccer hybrid played indoors, usually on a basketball court – is strongly recommended.
Lake Norman area youth have that opportunity. Through a partnership between the South Iredell Soccer Association and the Town of Mooresville Cultural and Recreational Services department, futsal academies are offered at the Selma Burke Center every summer and winter.
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Those seasons come during dead periods in the youth and high school soccer calendars. Because their competitive seasons occur in the fall and spring, futsal serves as an off-season way to train and hone players’ skills.
“I do this to practice skills,” said Allison Norem, a 12-year old-Mooresville resident. “I do it in summer so I’m always working on something (with soccer) and I’m not just sitting around. It’s so I don’t lower my game over the summer and go back into soccer season and not know how to do anything.”
Futsal is more than just soccer played indoors. It is played with a smaller, heavier ball which helps keep it more on the floor and less in the air.
The gym’s close quarters dictates a faster pace and the need for quick passing and less dribbling. Some basic soccer rules are modified, including the absence of corner kicks and throw-ins.
“I would say it’s closely related to soccer but in a way it’s very different,” said Connor Downing, a rising freshman at Mooresville High. “Normal soccer is a lot more physical, it’s a lot more running, more knocking into each other. Futsal is more technically based. You are not using your body, but you’re using your foot skills to get around people instead of blasting right past them.”
Added Joseph Campbell, a rising freshman at Lake Norman High: “It’s much smaller than soccer. There’s a lot less space, and more people in that space. So you have to move quickly.”
Futsal is gaining popularity in the United States because of the sport’s endorsement by some of the world’s top players. It has its origins in Brazil, a country that is crazy for soccer.
The local program is directed by Fil Wilkinson, the South Iredell Soccer Association’s director of coaching. He is a native of Durham, England, and relocated to Mooresville in 2011.
Wilkinson started the futsal program shortly after he was hired by SISA. He says it has reached more than 1,000 players over six years and would include many more if more gym space was available.
For now, the only facility available through Mooresville Cultural and Recreational Services is the Selma Burke Center, which is open to futsal Monday-Friday but only after 6:30 p.m.
The program is open to boys and girls, ages 8-16. The summer academy maxed out at 60 players.
Youth receive a 60-minute practice and play one five-on-five game each week. Teams are selected randomly each week, so wins and losses do not count for anything.
SISA has a friendly relationship with Lake Norman Soccer Club. While LNSC offers competitive play at the highest levels of youth soccer, SISA is more recreationally based.
Joe Habina is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to join?
Registration for SISA’s 2017 fall programs runs through Aug. 8. Play begins Aug. 21. SISA’s next futsal academy registration will begin Nov. 1. For information: Fil Wilkinson at 704-439-6887 or email@example.com.
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