Regular indoor futsal training has already translated in outdoor tournament medals for Vernon’s European Football Club (EFC).
And Ian Murphy is stoked about what Futsal can do for young soccer players in coming years.
“After years of trying to understand why players from other centres seem to be better equipped than our local kids, it ultimately came down to the fact that they were getting more exposure to playing the game,” said Murphy, a South African product. “This was especially true for players down on the coast where if a child was keen they could play soccer for 12 months a year if they wanted.”
Factoring in the local climate, type of facilities available and the direction the game was going, Murphy said five-on-five futsal was an automatic choice for EFC to offer to local youth.
Unlike some other forms of indoor soccer, the game is played on a hard court surface delimited by lines; walls or boards are not used. Futsal is also played with a smaller ball with less bounce than a regular football due to the surface of the field.
The surface, ball and rules create an emphasis on improvisation, creativity, and technique as well as ball control and passing in small spaces.
Some football experts have said futsal is the breeding ground for the best soccer players on the planet. Countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Spain and Portugal have seen futsal provide superstars of the game.
The list is topped by Lionel Messi. The three-time FIFA World Player of the Year and Barcelona’s all-time leading scorer took his first tentative steps with a ball in the colours of Newell’s Old Boys, although he played futsal rather than soccer.
“As a little boy in Argentina, I played futsal on the streets and for my club. It was tremendous fun, and it really helped me become who I am today,” the 25-year-old told UEFA.com.
From world and European champion Xavi: “In futsal, you see whether a player is really talented. In normal football you don’t necessarily identify talent as easily because it’s so much more physical. But with futsal, you notice the small details in quality, class and tactical understanding.”
At EFC, the coaches are experienced, passionate and trained with players starting as young as seven years old to 13.
“Futsal players are easily identifiable in the outdoor game with the EFC-trained player being the one with close ball control, vision and anticipation,” said Murphy. “Qualities not easily taught.
“My prediction is that the next generation of Canadian international soccer stars will all have a futsal pedigree.”
EFC outdoor teams struck silver in U12 and bronze in U11 divisions at a summer Salmon Arm team.
Murphy said the importance that futsal plays in the development of the modern player can be seen in the fact that most of the current greats of the game such as Messi, Xavi, CR7 and were all forged in the futsal cauldron.
“This fact has not been lost on the game’s elite European clubs who have all in recent years introduced Futsal as a component in their youth development programs. From FIFA all the way down to local soccer associations more and more importance is being placed on Futsal as a key strategy in developing top class soccer players. The start of a professional Futsal League in the US next year will only fuel this explosive growth.”
If you want to know more about Futsal or how to join EFC, visit the Priest Valley Gym on a Saturday afternoon or the club’s web site at www.efsokanagan.com.