boys' under-19 team participated in the U.S. Futsal National
Championships last weekend at the Anaheim Convention Center.
With a crash-course into the unique sport, the local players got
to see what it is like to play a different brand of soccer.
The under-16 team went 2-1 in pool play, but lost out on a playoff
berth because of goal differential.
The under-19 team didn't fare as well, as it lost its three
matches, despite playing well at times.
"I've never played Futsal before and I had never heard of it,''
said Matt Rosenfield, who coached both teams for the Red Machine. "I
saw it on the Internet and I thought it would be fun to give it a
Futsal -- which has its roots in Uruguay in 1930 -- is
five-on-five game similar to indoor soccer, but with some exceptions
and several major differences. The sport has been recognized by FIFA
-- the world governing body of soccer -- since 1988. There has even
been talk about the game eventually becoming an Olympic sport.
"In the world, it's the fastest growing sport,'' said U.S. Futsal
President Alexander Para. "It is played equally by men and women.
Actually, more women play in certain areas of the country.''
Bernie Lilivois, a member of the U.S. National Team, assessed the
differences between Futsal and field soccer.
"It's a completely different game,'' said Lilivois, who played
soccer at Pasadena La Salle High. "Indoor, or Futsal, is a thinking
man's game. It's like a chess match out there. There is a lot of fast
footwork skills involved. You have to play a lot of angles, so it's a
great game to develop skills, especially for the younger kids. When
you play 11 on 11, some kids don't get a touch on the ball.''
With no grass, cleats, throw-ins, a small court and goal, just
four field players along with a goalie, the Red Machine players got a
taste of something they weren't accustomed to.
The field in Futsal has no official dimensions and can be played
on any hard surface. It is roughly the size of a basketball court,
and unlike indoor soccer, is played with boundaries. Also, keeping
the ball in bounds is one of the toughest tasks beginners face. The
goals are roughly 10 feet wide and just 6 1/2 feet high, opposed to