Futsal is a small-sided game that is quickly gaining popularity here in the United States. It has been popular abroad since the early 1930's.
A game is made up of two periods of twenty minutes each. The starting team is determined by a coin toss.
Kick-offs are used at the beginning of play, for each half, and also at the start of any extra time that may be added in. They are also used following a goal, the non goal-winning team gets the kick-off.
Another huge distinguisher from soccer is that there are no offsides. Attacking players are able to get much closer to the goal than in traditional soccer.
The game requires two teams composed of five players each, including a goalkeeper. It is usually played on a hard court that is similar in size to a basketball court. The game can be played either indoors or outdoors. Unlike indoor soccer, the side walls of the playing area is not incorporated into play.
The ball is also different than a soccer ball. It is smaller (a size 4) and made with a foam interior. This makes it a lot harder than a typical soccer ball and heading it is discouraged in games.
The benefits of playing include:
Many world-renown players have credited the game for its contribution to their foot skills. Christiano Ronaldo has been noted as saying "The small playing area helped me improve my close control, and whenever I played futsal, I felt free. If it wasn't for futsal, I wouldn't be the player I am today."
Lionel Messi is another Superstar who credits for his development. "As a little boy in Argentina, I played futsal (5 v 5) on streets and for my club. It was tremendous fun and it really helped me become who I am today."
US Soccer has recognized the benefits to be reaped by small-sided play. In 2013, the US Soccer Developmental Academy program began to incorporate it into their practice schedules.
Many other clubs are now also encouraging these games, either in leagues or more informal settings by utilizing the smaller field space with fewer players on the turf.
This is definitely a game that I predict will only continue to gain in popularity here in the US.
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