Obscure Sports Weekly: Futsal

Futsal or “Futebol de salão,” otherwise known as “room football,” is a sport that is not well known by most Americans. In its most basic form, it is soccer played on a basketball court with smaller goals, and fewer players.

The game of futsal originated in Brazil in the 1930s and 1940s where it was played as a much smaller version of soccer to make up for the lack of space for full-sized soccer fields. Futsal was and is a way for people of all ages to enjoy a form of organized soccer in a much smaller space.

Although futsal originated as an alternative to full field soccer, many of the world’s greatest players started their soccer careers playing futsal. The likes of Pele, Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi, Xavi and Ronaldo all credit futsal as the reason their skill improved so significantly as children.

The basic rules of futsal are relatively straightforward. All rules of regular soccer apply, but the ball is one size smaller than usual and weighted, and there are five players for each side with unlimited substitutions available. The games are much shorter than full soccer, with only 24-minute halves.

Although futsal originated in the streets of Brazil, many young soccer players in the United States now play futsal at the club level, usually up until the age of about 18, in order to become better players.

Here in Kansas City, Heartland Futsal is an organization that local players use, primarily to play almost every weekend during the winter months.

While the international futsal scene is not huge, there is a Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) affiliated world cup for futsal every four years, with Spain, Brazil and Portugal being the “heavyweights” of that competition.

A current star that plays futsal in the Portuguese futsal leagues is Ricardinho. Here, you can see the amount of skill that is showcased by Ricardinho.

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