The game of futsal is enjoying a good period of growth in Australia and most of the world’s sporting nations. This shortened, five-a-side version of the game is played indoors, with each half lasting 14 to 20 minutes. Packed with action, incident and lots of goals, futsal matches are guaranteed to deliver entertainment and spectacular skills.
But why has futsal become so popular in such a short space of time? And what does the future hold for one of the fastest-growing participation sports in Australia today?
One of the main reasons for the sudden growth in the popularity of futsal is the fact that it helps players to develop their touch and control. Smaller pitches, fewer players and a distinct lack of space force participants to constantly search for space, improve their passing accuracy and concentrate on staying in possession of the ball.
The best futsal players are alert and ready for the ball at all times. They are highly creative, and they can improvise to create chances out of nothing. These are all highly desirable skills and attributes in the modern game – especially at a time when players in the Australia are being criticised for their lack of technique.
Futsal has been hugely popular in South America since the early 20th century. Indeed, the first Futsal World Cup was held in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo in 1982 – a tournament that the hosts won comfortably. The shortened version of the game has shaped many of the greats in Brazil, including Pele, Ronaldo and Zico. These players, and hundreds more like them in South America, perfected their skills playing various versions of futsal on streets and beaches, which is why an increasing number of professional clubs are implementing the game as part of their weekly training regimes.
Of course, there are many variations of futsal, and different countries, clubs and associations have adapted the basic principles of the game for their specific needs. Spain, for instance, developed the famous ‘Tika Taka’ style by implementing futsal into everyday club training programmes. The philosophy of using limited space, remaining in control of the ball at all times and constantly looking for opportunities has served the national team very well over the last decade.
At a time when young Australian players are being criticised for a lack of control and technical ability, the game of futsal can be used as a fun and relatively safe way of developing those attributes throughout a player’s development. With an increasing number of professional clubs implementing futsal into their daily training regimes, it seems that the shortened version of the game is here to stay.