You’ve just walked by SweetBay’s sport court and you see a group of about ten people playing soccer. Except, it’s not quite right. The ball is smaller, the pace is faster, and it’s played on solid ground as opposed to grass. They’re actually playing something entirely different: futsal.
No, that’s not a typo.
Futsal is a variation of soccer that is played on a hard court with only five players. The differences between futsal and soccer are meant to emphasize skill, creativity, and safety. Competitive sports are essential to early childhood development and futsal is perfect due to its quick pace and relative safety.
There’s still much to learn before you go out there on the court but by the end of this, you’ll be ready to kick back with a game of futsal.
Futsal was created in the 1930s in Uruguay. The intention was to create a version of soccer that could be played on the basketball courts of the YMCA. However, it quickly became much more than that. Futsal also incorporates elements of other sports: basketball, water polo, and handball. The YMCA immediately spread futsal across South America. The game was a hit due to how easy it was to learn and how it could be played anywhere, anytime by anyone.
In 1985, the FIFUSA elected to host the World Championship in Madrid, Spain. The event was a huge success due to the intense media coverage and massive response from the audience. It also caught the attention of everybody's favorite FIFA president, Sepp Blatter. While he was still just a secretary, he saw tremendous potential in the sport and suggested that FIFA should also govern futsal. FIFA listened and, to this day, they are one of two major governing bodies for professional futsal, with the other being the AMF.
As mentioned earlier, each team has only five players, including the goalie. The basic rules are very similar to soccer. The objective is to score more goals than your opponent without touching the ball with your hands. However, there are a few key differences that are essential to the game.
Futsal is typically played on a hard court within marked boundary lines which encourages more precise passing and skillful play. The facilities at SweetBay are expertly designed to incorporate many different sports and futsal is no exception.
When the ball goes out of bounds, there is a kick in, instead of a throw in. Throw-ins are one of the most dangerous parts of soccer due to the fact that player’s heads often collide leading to concussions and other head injuries. With a kick in, it ensures that the ball stays closer to the ground.
Even the ball itself is different! The ball is heavier and designed to have significantly less bounce. This keeps the ball on the ground more often. Not only does this force players to become better at passing and dribbling but it also allows for safer play.
Penalties are essentially the same as soccer with a few notable exceptions. Slide tackling and shoulder charging are strictly forbidden. If a team commits more than five fouls in either of the 20-minute halves, each subsequent foul results in a penalty kick. When a penalty kick is taken, all players must stand at least five yards away.
Now that you’re a futsal expert, call your friends and come down to the SweetBay sport court!