Futsal, an increasingly popular form of indoor soccer, has been taking over gym floors in recent years, and it may fit the bill if you’re looking for a new sport for the kids this winter. Futsal is also attracting soccer-loving kids who want a place to kick during those cold winter months. Sure, there are indoor soccer leagues and off-season training programs, but futsal puts a different spin on soccer and offers perks that actually make kids better soccer players.
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What Is Futsal?
The United States Futsal Federation was founded in the 1980s, but the game dates back to the 1930s. The word futsal is a combination of the Spanish and Portuguese term “futbol” and the French and Spanish word for indoor. In simple terms, futsal is a type of indoor soccer played on gymnasium floors. It is the only type of indoor soccer that is given an official stamp of approval by the governing body of soccer, FIFA. Despite being a close relative of the sport of soccer, futsal is a competitive sport in its own right and is played across the globe.
Since futsal is played on a gym floor smaller than a regulation field, it is a much faster-paced, higher-scoring game than traditional soccer. Many travel soccer players have discovered the benefits of playing futsal: It helps develop ball skills, sharpens decision-making skills, provides extra touches, ball control, and more.
The game isn’t just for higher-level soccer players either. Many players love the quick-moving game and play futsal year-round. Some futsal programs start with kids as young as 5, while others begin offering futsal training at around 8. Futsal leagues can be found for all ages. There are even futsal leagues for adults who want to get in on the fun and get an awesome workout.
The sport of futsal has similarities to its soccer cousin, but the sport does have its differences. Here are some quick futsal facts that highlight the differences between the two sports:
- A futsal game is a 5-on-5 affair
- A game consists of two 20 minutes halves
- A futsal ball is heavier than a soccer ball
- Unlimited substitutions are allowed during a game and are done on the fly
- The ball is kicked in–not thrown in–when it goes out of bounds
- No tackling
- No offsides
A futsal ball is heavier than a soccer ball. Photo courtesy of Dutch Total Soccer
Where To Play Futsal in New Jersey
Thinking about signing your kiddos up for futsal this winter? There are a few options to choose from in New Jersey. Most futsal programs are seasonal and offered during the winter. Unfortunately, none of the venues holding upcoming futsal programs offer a drop-in option. All the programs offer online registration. Prices vary by program and reflect whether or not league and tournament play is included.
Dutch Total Soccer – Somerset
Dutch Total Soccer, or DTS, offers a futsal training program for girls and boys with birth years from 2008-2014. The program also has a high school futsal program for teens. Futsal training starts in December and runs through February. The program includes a dozen hour-long training sessions and league games on the weekend. In order to participate, players must attend an introductory session prior to the start of the program. Questions about DTS’s futsal program can be emailed to DTSFutsal@SoccerCenters.com.
Futsal is growing in popularity. Photo courtesy of FC COPA
FC COPA – Metuchen and Brooklyn, New York
FC COPA is one of New Jersey’s premier academy soccer programs. In the winter, FC COPA’s attention turns to futsal. It’s been working to help grow the sport of futsal at its New Jersey and New York locations since the program started in 2004. FC COPA’s winter futsal session runs from December through February and includes weekly training sessions and weekend games. There are two one-day tournaments as well. Players can also participate in the training portion of the futsal program without playing games or tournaments. Higher-level futsal players may have an opportunity to play in regional, state, and national futsal tournaments.
Futsal Development Program – Multiple Locations
The Futsal Development Program, or FDP, started as Central Jersey Futsal. Its director, Niko Alexopoulos, says it is moving toward changing the name because the program offers futsal at various locations in the state. The Futsal Development program is the only futsal program in New Jersey that offers futsal training and leagues year-round and has been doing so for about 12 years. Alexopoulos has been coaching futsal for almost 18 years and is excited to help grow the game in New Jersey. This year, the Futsal Development Program hosts futsal training and leagues at the following locations:
Alexopoulos is also working to add a location at Capelli Sports in Tinton Falls.
The Futsal Development Program offers futsal players the option of participating in training or also playing in games. Alexopoulos welcomes players as young as 5 to begin learning the basics of futsal.
Futsal can be played by a wide age range. Photo courtesy of Clifton Sports and Fitness Club
Clifton Sports and Fitness Club – Clifton
This spot offers futsal/soccer training for children in kindergarten through fifth grade and hosts a futsal tournament. Parents can reach out for additional information by emailing email@example.com. For additional information on upcoming futsal tournaments, parents can email firstname.lastname@example.org.