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When we think about Futsal in the United States, we always try to explain the benefits of Futsal. I’ve had to explain a million times already to parents about Futsal’s benefits and how it will help you with decision making, quicker feet, speed of play, more touches, balance, agility, 1 v 1 moves, and the list goes on. But I recently had a conversation with Stephen Finn, who works for the Football Association of Ireland. We discussed the problems with educating parents and coaches about the benefits of Futsal. He said something interesting that I hadn’t thought about because I was so concerned with developing soccer players. This is what Stephen said
” I think helping people understand that soccer players can benefit from playing futsal is good but what is even better is that some players will be even better futsal players than they ever will be soccer players and when people see these guys in full flow they will excite spectators and grow your audience”
This is something we need to start advocating now that we have a US Youth Futsal National Team and a Professional Futsal League. As Futsal educators and advocates, we should not only think about improving the soccer player, but WE need to start thinking about developing the next Futsal player. We have a new goal and that goal is aligned with what we are already trying to do, develop futsal players for the future.
So from now on, not only will I educate parents on how futsal can enhance the skills of a soccer player, but that your son or daughter may one day become an excellent Futsal player, and there is nothing wrong with that. As a matter of fact it should be celebrated. Futsal players are no joke and are admired Futsal players around the world. Falcao and Ricardinho are just two of the best.
Speaking of Ricardinho, I am working on a post about his development. Ricardinho tried out for soccer clubs as a kid, he was told by a soccer coach that he was too small to play soccer. He thought he would never play soccer again. A coach saw him playing and asked him to join their futsal team. In 2010 he won the Futsal Player of the Year award, more on that later. This happens to thousands of kids here in the US. Since the majority of coaches are in the “win at all costs” bandwagon, the smaller “weaker” players are pushed to the side. But now we can offer them Futsal! and just like Ricardinho, they will have an opportunity to continue their love for soccer and futsal. Futsal welcomes every player, big or small. The advantages of size in Futsal are very few (you can always use that big Pivo or Fixo). Now the smaller technically gifted players neglected by soccer coaches will have a Futsal coach waiting for them with open arms. And they will be given the ball and the crowd will request creativity.
Parents, coaches, and clubs need to understand that Futsal should no longer be viewed as only a tool to enhance the skills and development of a soccer player, but as a sport that will produce its own brilliant players. We as coaches and parents need to recognize that and give the opportunity to the kids to develop as futsal players if they choose to go that route. We should be taking the approach of Spain and Brazil by letting the kids start out with futsal and then allowing them to progress to the outdoor game. This will improve their development tremendously for numerous reasons, including the fact that they won’t be playing 7 v 7 when they are only 8 years old.
The fact that the US has so much land for soccer fields is actually a curse when you look at it through a soccer player development perspective. Because we have the real estate to build soccer fields all over the place, we think that every child should be playing on a regular size field. So just by introducing the kids to futsal at an early age, the soccer player development process will be improved. Futsal is not going anywhere, the quicker that coaches and parents realize that, the quicker we can progress and start developing players. Youth Futsal leagues are popping up everywhere and as Keith Tozer said, we have the most futsal courts in the entire world (we have 2-3 gyms in every school). The future looks bright for Futsal and Futsal players around the globe.
What are your thoughts about the US developing a world class futsal player? can it be done? or Will we find coaches to stunt their growth?