Futsal is an exciting, fast-paced small sided soccer game that is played across the world and is officially recognized by both FIFA and UEFA.
Futsal earned the status of FIFA’s official form of indoor soccer in the 1980s as it was recognized as a scaled down version of outdoor soccer played indoors. It is a 5 v 5 small-sided game played on a hard surfaced, basketball sized court with a smaller, low bounce ball. Futsal is played with touchline boundaries and without walls.
Futsal places a large emphasis on technical skill in high pressure situations which can be translated into the outdoor game. The sport is a great skill developer as it demands quick reflexes, fast thinking and pin-point passing.
Futsal is played in all the continents of the world by over 100 countries with 12 million players.
For decades now, futsal has been a popular and much-loved sporting discipline, especially in South America and southern Europe. And while the indoor version of football is rapidly growing in popularity elsewhere now, thanks to FIFA’s patronage and the support of many leading personalities, it is in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Spain and Portugal that futsal has proved a breeding ground for some of the greats 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 football.
“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,” said the 25-year-old, reflecting on the benefits of the five-a-side version of the game.
Pele and Co convinced by futsal
Messi is by no means the only superstar with futsal roots. Apart from the Argentinian wizard, the likes of Pele, Cristiano Ronaldo, Xavi and Ronaldo learned the trade in the sports hall.
Cristiano Ronaldo honed his natural ability by playing futsal. “During my childhood in Portugal, all we played was futsal,” he said. “The small playing area helped me improve my close control, and whenever I played futsal I felt free. If it wasn’t for futsal, I wouldn’t be the player I am today.”
World and European champion Xavi revealed his love of futsal to UEFA.com, citing one reason in particular: “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