What is Futsal?

When someone asks you “what is futsal?” Your ready answer could be the best version of soccer for Americans. We’ll get into why it’s likely to become a favorite sport in this country, but first let’s go over the basic explanation of futsal. 

Futsal is played worldwide by over 100 countries with 12 million players. Soccer phenoms you know such as Pele, Zico, Ronaldo, Messi, Kaka and Katia all grew up playing futsal. It gained traction in the United States in the 1980s when it “earned the status of FIFA’s official form of indoor soccer.”

The US Youth Futsal organization describes futsal as “an exciting, fast-paced small-sided soccer game.” CLT Futsal players agree.

“Futsal is more technical and faster,” says Dylan Quinlan, a CLT Futsal 2009 player. While on the bigger fields for outdoor soccer you have more space to dribble, she says, “you have to be quick in futsal because the court’s smaller, so people are going to be on you quicker."

Futsal is played on a hard, basketball-sized court, typically indoors, with five players on each team. That can mean a lot more running and more touches on the ball, says CLT Futsal 2008 player Coen Wilson. “In soccer you can build out of the back and go, but in futsal you have to do it with passing,” he added.

Futsal began in Uruguay in the 1930s.

Shifting around the ball quickly and moving into open space is essential to futsal rotations. “In soccer you stay in one position, but in Futsal you don’t expect to stay in that position,” says Alejandro Mosera, an 04 CLT Futsal player. “You’re always rotating. If you’re in the back, you can go up front in no time. If the defense has the ball and it plays out to the wing, and you have the space to run, you will move up and the forward will run back for you.”

That means everyone on the field gets more shots on goal, says Noah Quinlan, a 2007 CLT Futsal Player. Plus, he says, “in futsal there are a lot of one v ones and you can work on your skills and then put them into the soccer game.”

 Futsal Skills Under Pressure

The players we interviewed all agreed that futsal is great training for using technical skill under pressure. As USYF puts it, “The sport is a great skill developer as it demands quick reflexes, fast thinking and pin-point passing.”

The ball is smaller and heavier too. “The ball is completely different,” says Mosera. “It doesn’t bounce at all. You don’t expect to do many headers. You want to keep it on the floor a lot.” 

In futsal you also control the ball with the sole of your foot, which is a change from soccer. But it’s not too difficult to learn, says Wilson. Plus, once you’ve got the hang of it, he says, “it’s easier to control the ball.”

Ultimately, though, why do Charlotte soccer players like adding futsal into their training and development. They agree with Jack Layton, a 2010 CLT Fustal player: “It’s a really fun game.”

A fun game that builds up your ball awareness and helps improve your field awareness too, Mosera adds.

But why is such a great for the States? Well, again, it’s faster than a traditional youth soccer game (even at the Development Academy level). Additionally in futsal:

•       Players touch the ball frequently, so everyone is participating and actively involved

•       Encourages defense “as a productive, fun and rewarding part of the game”

•       Eliminates complicated rules, such as offsides, that can slow the pace of the game

•       Gets rids of throw-ins (in favor of kick-ins) for rapid pace of play.

Plus, the ultimate appeal for players and fans alike? There are more scoring opportunities and more goals. The only person who’s going to be unhappy about that is the goalie (and maybe his or her parents). But, even the goalie can move out into the field and have a scoring opportunity in the small-sided game that is futsal.

With so much to offer, futsal is a fun game for anyone, whether they’re playing soccer year-round as well or not. CLT Futsal offers seasonal 10-week class sessions on Sunday for girls and boys of all ages. Learn more!

chris williams