We’ve all heard of football but what is futsal? I was thinking that it was just a word for football in another language but it turns out to be a different sport altogether. By no means new it seems to be increasing in popularity yet there are a lot of people who’ve never heard of it. The word roughly translates from Spanish as “mini football” and is played mostly indoors on a hard pitch or court that is smaller than a football pitch. It has been growing in popularity since many top name footballers credit futsal with helping them develop playing skills.
|Futsal in full effect|
While futsal is clearly a version of football, it also borrows from other sports. Each team has five players and goals that are similar in dimensions to those used in hockey. Games are 20 minutes per half and like basketball are timed with a stop watch allowing time outs. The ball is also smaller and lighter than a football. Other differences from football include an unlimited number of substitutions are allowed and players who have been substituted can come back on. There are kick- ins instead of throw-ins.
The nature and relative brevity of the game makes for much faster playing and this is why it has become popular with professional and amateur players helping them develop touch control and agility. As the Football Association put it: “The surface, ball and rules create an emphasis on improvisation, creativity and technique as well as ball control and passing in small spaces.”
There is a FIFA Futsal World Cup every four years; the first was held in 1989. Brazil have won it five times though the most recent competition in 2012 was won by Argentina. England have either not entered or failed to qualify for the tournament so they're even worse than our football team!
Futsal actually started way back in 1930 in Uruguay when a teacher in Montevideo invented an indoor game to be played on basketball courts. The first rule book was published in 1933. The first world championship though was not held until 1982 and the sport has been increasing in popularity since helped by the introduction of futsal into Europe. Perhaps the real reason though why people like it is that futsal does not have an offside rule!