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No More Arena Soccer, Futsal Only


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In an effort improve the ball handling skills of our kids, and break the reliance on kick and chase while fostering a culture of creativity and real ball skills I honestly think there should be a grass roots movement to rid all associations use of arena soccer for indoor games.

Futsal has less requirements for facilities, it can be played in gyms rather than expensive facilities that drain money from the coffers of the associations which could be better spent in other areas.

Thoughts?

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As much as I love to watch the adult version of arena soccer (and I pay to do so) I have to say it does teach all the wrong stuff to the kids. The boards keeping it in are just promoting a kick and chase style that will never develop ball handling skills. I have grown to love futsal more and more and when I see a game on youtube or the spanish league highlights I keep thinking we are so far behind.

In the 1980s when the arena game was a going concern in North America you could make the case for it. But times have changed and for once FIFA got it right.

The discipline of the lines is so important to teach at the youngest age. Lose control and the ball goes out you lose posession. When you get in a jam there is no shuttle it along the boards or kick it off the boards and run after it. When you get to the lines and you are being checked you have to "get creative". That is something huge that is totally lacking in Canadian players.

I'll see if I can dig up the chapter from "The Talent Code" about futsal. It really does teach all the important parts of soccer in a way that our brains learn from.

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Ah yes here it is. Not too long and worth every bit of your time. Reprinted with permission by Daniel Coyle (djcoyle1@gmail.com). Yes I actually got his permission a while back as I wanted to distribute it. I'm thinking the CSA need another copy sent to them! Again!

An extract from The Talent Code follows:

Trying to describe the collective talent of Brazilian soccer players is like trying to describe the law of gravity. You can measure it—the five World Cup victories, the nine hundred or so young talents signed each year by professional European clubs. Or you can name it—the procession of transcendent stars like Pelé, Zico, Socrates, Romário, Ronaldo, Juninho, Robinho, Ronaldinho, Kaká, and others who have deservedly worn the crown of “world’s best player.” But in the end you can’t capture the power of Brazilian talent in numbers and names. It has to be felt.

Every day soccer fans around the world witness the quintessential scene: a group of enemy players surround a Brazilian, leaving him no options, no space, no hope. Then there’s a dancelike blur of motion—a feint, a flick, a burst of speed—and suddenly the Brazilian player is in the clear, moving away from his now-tangled opponents with the casual aplomb of a person stepping off a crowded bus.

Each day, Brazil accomplishes something extremely difficult and unlikely: in a game at which the entire world is feverishly competing, it continues to produce an unusually high percentage of the most skilled players.

The conventional way to explain this kind of concentrated talent is to attribute it to a combination of genes and environment, a.k.a. nature and nurture. In this way of thinking, Brazil is great because it possesses a unique confluence of factors: a friendly climate, a deep passion for soccer, and a genetically diverse population of 190 million, 40 percent of whom are desperately poor and long to escape through “the beautiful game.” Add up all the factors and—voilà!—you have the ideal factory for soccer greatness.

But there ’s a slight problem with this explanation: Brazil wasn’t always a great producer of soccer players. In the 1940s and 1950s, with its trifecta of climate, passion, and poverty already firmly in place, the ideal factory produced unspectacular results, never winning a World Cup, failing to defeat then-world-power Hungary in four tries, showing few of the dazzling improvisational skills for which it would later become known. It wasn’t until 1958 that the Brazil the world now recognizes truly arrived, in the form of a brilliant team featuring seventeen-year-old Pelé, at the World Cup in Sweden.

Soccer historians trace the moment to the opening three minutes of Brazil’s 1958 World Cup semifinal victory against the heavily favored Soviet Union. The Soviets, who were regarded as the pinnacle of modern technique, were overrun by the ballhandling skills of Pelé, Garrincha, and Vavá. As commentator Luis Mendes said, “The scientific systems of the Soviet Union died a death right there. They put the first man in space, but they couldn’t mark Garrincha.”

If sometime during the next decade Brazil should shockingly lose its lofty place in the sport (as Hungary so shockingly did), then the Brazil-is-unique argument leaves us with no conceivable response except to shrug and celebrate the new champion, which undoubtedly will also possess a set of characteristics all its own.

So how does Brazil produce so many great players?

The surprising answer is that Brazil produces great players because since the 1950s Brazilian players have trained in a particular way, with a particular tool that improves ball-handling skill faster than anywhere else in the world. They have found a way to increase their learning

BRAZIL’S SECRET WEAPON

Like many sports fans around the world, soccer coach Simon Clifford was fascinated by the supernatural skills of Brazilian soccer players. Unlike most fans, however, he decided to go to Brazil to see if he could find out how they developed those. This was an unusually ambitious initiative on Clifford’s part, considering that he had gained all his coaching experience at a Catholic elementary school in the soccer non-hotbed of Leeds, England. Then again, Clifford is not what you’d call usual.

In the summer of 1997, when he was twenty-six, Clifford borrowed $8,000 from his teachers’ union and set out for Brazil toting a backpack, a video camera, and a notebook full of phone numbers he ’d cajoled from a Brazilian player he ’d met. Once there, Clifford spent most of his time exploring the thronging expanse of São Paolo, sleeping in roach-infested dormitories by night, scribbling notes by day.

He saw many things he ’d expected to find: the passion, the tradition, the highly organized training centers, the long practice sessions. Teenage players at Brazilian soccer academies log twenty hours per week, compared with five hours per week for their British counterparts. He saw the towering poverty of the favelas, and the desperation in the players’ eyes.

But Clifford also saw something he didn’t expect: a strange game. It resembled soccer, if soccer were played inside a phone booth and dosed with amphetamines. The ball was less than half the size but weighed twice as much; it hardly bounced at all. The players trained, not on a vast expanse of grass field, but on basketball-court-size patches of concrete, wooden floor, and dirt. Each side, instead of having eleven players, had five. In its rhythm and blinding speed, the game resembled basketball or hockey more than soccer: it consisted of an intricate series of quick, controlled passes and nonstop endto-end action. The game was called Futebol de Salão,

“It was clear to me that this was where Brazilian skills were born,” Clifford said. “It was like finding the missing link.” Futebol de Salao had been invented in 1930 as a rainy-day training option by a Uruguayan coach. Brazilians quickly seized upon it and codified the first rules in 1936. Since then the game had spread like a virus, especially in Brazil’s crowded cities, and it quickly came to occupy a unique place in Brazilian sporting culture.

Brazil became uniquely obsessed with it, in part because the game could be played anywhere (no small advantage in a nation where grass fields are rare). Futebol de Salao grew to command the passions of Brazilian kids in the same way that pickup basketball commands the passions of inner-city American kids.

As Alex Bellos, author of Futebol: Soccer, the Brazilian Way, wrote, Futebol de Salao “is regarded as the incubator of the Brazilian soul.” The incubation is reflected in players’ biographies. From Pelé onward virtually every great Brazilian player played Futebol de Salao as a kid, first in the neighborhood and later at Brazil’s soccer academies, where from ages seven to around twelve they typically devoted three days a week to Futebol de Salao. A top Brazilian player spends thousands of hours at the game.

The great Juninho, for instance, said he never kicked a full-size ball on grass until he was fourteen. Until he was twelve, Robinho spent half his training time playing Futebol de Salao.*

Like a vintner identifying a lovely strain of grape, a cognoscente like Prof. Emilio Miranda, professor of soccer at the University of São Paolo, can identify the Futebol de Salao wiring within famous Brazilian soccer tricks. That elastico move that Ronaldinho popularized, drawing the ball in and out like a yoyo?

It originated in Futebol de Salao. The toe-poke goal that Ronaldo scored in the 2002 World Cup? Again, Futebol de Salao. Moves like the d’espero, el barret, and vaselina? All came from Futebol de Salao. When I told Miranda that I’d imagined Brazilians built skills by playing soccer on the beach, he laughed. “Journalists fly here, go to the beach, they take pictures and write stories. But great players don’t come from the beach. They come from the Futebol de Salao court.”

One reason lies in the math. Futebol de Salao players touch the ball far more often than soccer players—six times more often per minute, according to a Liverpool University study. The smaller, heavier ball demands and rewards more precise handling—as coaches point out, you can’t get out of a tight spot simply by booting the ball downfield. Sharp passing is paramount: the game is all about looking for angles and spaces and working quick combinations with other players.

Ball control and vision are crucial, so that when Futebol de Salao players play the full-size game, they feel as if they have acres of free space in which to operate. When I watched professional outdoor games in São Paulo sitting with Prof. Miranda, he would point out players who had played Futebol de Salao: he could tell by the way they held the ball.

They didn’t care how close their opponent came. As Prof. Miranda summed up, “No time plus no space equals better skills. Futebol de Salao is our national laboratory of improvisation.” In other words, Brazilian soccer is different from the rest of the world’s because Brazil employs the sporting equivalent of a Link trainer (the first aircraft simulator for pilots). Futebol de Salao compresses soccer’s essential skills into a small box; it places players inside the deep practice zone, making and correcting errors, constantly generating solutions to vivid problems.

Players touching the ball 600 percent more often learn far faster, without realizing it, than they would in the vast, bouncy expanse of the outdoor game.

To be clear: Futebol de Salao is not the only reason Brazilian soccer is great. The other factors so often cited—climate, passion, and poverty—really do matter. But Futebol de Salao is the lever through which those other factors transfer their force.

When Simon Clifford saw Futebol de Salao, he got excited. He returned home, quit his teaching job, and founded the International Confederation of Futebol de Salão in a spare room of his house, developing a soccer program for elementary and high-school-age kids that he called the Brazilian Soccer Schools. He constructed an elaborate series of drills based on Futebol de Salao moves. His players, who mostly hailed from a rough, impoverished area of Leeds, started imitating the Zicos and Ronaldinhos. To create the proper ambience, Clifford played samba music on a boom box.

Let’s step back a moment and take an objective look at what Clifford was doing. He was running an experiment to see whether Brazil’s million-footed talent factory could be grafted to an utterly foreign land via this small, silly game. He was betting that the act of playing Futebol de Salao would cause some glowing kernel of Brazilian magic to take root in sooty, chilly Leeds.

When the citizens of Leeds heard of Clifford’s plan, they were mildly entertained. When they actually witnessed his school in action, they were in grave danger of laughing themselves to death at the spectacle: dozens of pale, pink-cheeked, thick-necked Yorkshire kids kicking around small, too-heavy balls, learning fancy tricks to the tune of samba music. It was a laugh, except for one detail—Clifford was right.

Four years later Clifford’s team of under-fourteens from Leeds defeated the Scottish national team of the same age; it went on to beat the Irish national team as well. One of his Leeds kids, a defender named Micah Richards, now plays for the English national team. Clifford’s Brazilian Soccer Schools and sister organisation SOCATOTS have now expanded to sixty one countries around the world.

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Also every community should turn one of their many soccer grass-fields into street soccer courts.

Nations like brazil and portugal teach the stepovers that other kids get nailed to the bench for attempting as part of the curriculum.

Football at its base root, no refs, no cards, no tactics should always be played beautiful"joga bonita". To many people its just a corny nike ad but it really is a philosophy of "football freedom" and should be taught to youngsters as curriculum .

Or scrap ultra-creativity and go for the German ultra-technical model doing the basics(shoot,Pass,cross), really really well.

Or blend the two to make our own style of play in concacaf.:D

Edited by JOGAKANATA
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My thoughts are that I am unaware of any children's futsal leagues in Toronto. A web search yielded little. If anyone knows of any, please share.

My local soccer club does an indoor program over the winter that is half-turf and half-futsal:

http://www.torontohighparkfc.com/league.php?scriptName=LEAGUEINFO&leagueID=7050&leagueInfoID=82907

Looks like a step in the right direction.

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Hey I was thinking maybe some of us Voyaguers should star our own lFutsal leagues in our respected communties first we should get the Local Soccer assocations to endorse it, In my hometown there are plenty of Scxhools with some very good gymnasiams I could use the only draw backs would be Insurance and sponsorships I believe If anyone has some solutions or Ideas please PM me and lets get the Ball rolling/.

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Also every community should turn one of their many soccer grass-fields into street soccer courts.

Nations like brazil and portugal teach the stepovers that other kids get nailed to the bench for attempting as part of the curriculum.

Football at its base root, no refs, no cards, no tactics should always be played beautiful"joga bonita". To many people its just a corny nike ad but it really is a philosophy of "football freedom" and should be taught to youngsters as curriculum .

Or scrap ultra-creativity and go for the German ultra-technical model doing the basics(shoot,Pass,cross), really really well.

Or blend the two to make our own style of play in concacaf.:D

Pretty cool I have watched a lot of Borrussia Dortmund in the last two years and they are maybe the best passing and possession team in all the Bundiesliga bAYERN mUNICH INCLUDED. nOW i KNOW wHY

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My thoughts are that I am unaware of any children's futsal leagues in Toronto. A web search yielded little. If anyone knows of any, please share.

Contact "futsal" on this board (you may know him as "north york" on another board). He's heavily involved with the scene in Toronto.

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I don't think Futsal by itself will yield results. In South America, just playing Street Soccer with the ball on the ground yields greater results since you can't use a wall, can't long ball, or else you'll kick it out of the small pitch, its all about creativity imventing your own moved on how to dribblr past 3-4 guys or get out of tight jams in a corner. I remember I use to preach the technical side of soccer decades ago here on the boards and it fell on deaf ears. Kinda weird for me that everything I preached a decade ago is finally something most Canadians realize we need and it took a humiliating loss to see the big picture.

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While I understand the desire to promote futsal ahead of other indoor soccer opportunities I have to confess that I subscribe to the theory that any touches on the ball can be beneficial and that until we have established alternatives available we shouldn't be turning players away from "boarded" soccer opportunities. After all, that's all some communities have to offer. After Tuesday's debacle I think there's probably a gazillion more pressing issues for Canadian soccer. Among them...

1) making soccer attractive so that Canada's best athletes choose soccer over the alternatives (hockey, football, baseball, etc)

2) creating a soccer identity that reflects Canada (talented, rugged, tough, etc). Tuesday's performance was an embarrassment. Soft doesn't accurately describe the team...they had way too much quit in them to be described as merely soft.

3) let's stop begging/hoping that dual nationality players will choose to play for Canada. If it isn't the greatest thrill in the world to pull a Canada jersey over their head...then screw 'em. If you are not prepared to bleed Canada red and white then you are probably not a good choice to represent us.

4) Funding for the CSA. They'll need lots of it to lead Canada out of the soccer dark ages. They'll probably piss a lot of it away with nothing to show for it but we do need to make lots of investments (Infrastructure, coaching, etc) to get us where we need to be.

5) The CSA has to step up. Player databases, routine ID camps (let's get every Canadian NCAA player through an ID camp), coordination of player development with the academies and clubs, full-time scouts, etc, etc, etc.

Just my 2 cents...

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Where is arena soccer most prevalent? Most indoor soccer places in Brampton consist of a small turfed field without any walls. While it's not as good as playing futsal, it's certainly ideal to "arena" soccer.

I don't think Futsal by itself will yield results. In South America, just playing Street Soccer with the ball on the ground yields greater results since you can't use a wall, can't long ball, or else you'll kick it out of the small pitch, its all about creativity imventing your own moved on how to dribblr past 3-4 guys or get out of tight jams in a corner.

That's what futsal would provide...

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In the Halifax area, Soccer NS splits a full indoor field 3 ways for 7 on 7 (divided by curtains). Regular ball size is used and there are no walls (all sides of the fields are lined, so throw-ins and goal kicks happen). People change on the fly (near half), there are no offsides and all free kicks are indirect (except for a penalty shot). Not exactly Futsal but I think it does help skill development because for the most part play has to happen on the ground, there's little to no room to get anything done in the air. Net sizes are still fairly wide but the bar is lower. This facility is only entering it's second season but's opened up the possibility for a lot more winter soccer signups which is good to see.

I think Futsal has a higher and more narrow goal with a ball size one smaller than regular.

Now sure how this compares to arena soccer (which I have no familiarity with).

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In the Halifax area, Soccer NS splits a full indoor field 3 ways for 7 on 7 (divided by curtains). Regular ball size is used and there are no walls (all sides of the fields are lined, so throw-ins and goal kicks happen). People change on the fly (near half), there are no offsides and all free kicks are indirect (except for a penalty shot). Not exactly Futsal but I think it does help skill development because for the most part play has to happen on the ground, there's little to no room to get anything done in the air. Net sizes are still fairly wide but the bar is lower. This facility is only entering it's second season but's opened up the possibility for a lot more winter soccer signups which is good to see.

I think Futsal has a higher and more narrow goal with a ball size one smaller than regular.

Now sure how this compares to arena soccer (which I have no familiarity with).

You can fit 4 full sized (42Mx25M) futsal fields on one regular pitch. A sideways 3 field would be about (50Mx33M). Keep it smaller for reasons outlined in the article. 7v7 has 42 players on the field at a time with 3 fields, futsal would have 40 with 4 so that is close but with 5 players on the team instead of 7 each player will get more touches in futsal.

A major thing about futsal is the ball. Until you get one and play with it you don't realize just how much better it is for indoor and training kids in particular. You cann't do a lazy pass because it won't get half way to your target. You have to really focus on striking the ball clean and crisp. The lack of bounce also makes you shoot harder to get the same effect as a regular soccer ball for shots at goal. Is it any wonder Brazilian players are legendary for their powerful shots? They do the equivalent of under water restistance training when they shoot a futsal ball and they do it from a very young age.

PS. Futsal goals are 2M high and 3M wide.

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I really enjoyed indoor growing up, I've never played futsal but I do agree it does build more of the skills that are important in the game. That said, usually only the worst indoor teams are'nt playing the game completely on the ground and fast paced, targeting the boards really is a poor strategy and the boards do speed up the game and allow for less stoppages and game time but they do punish long balls less although there is the 3 lines rule which basically nixes all long balls.

Where I play in Berkeley we play 8 vs 8 on half a field, 2 games at a time smaller goals and regular sized ball on turf. I think all kids games should be played like this really, allows more play and stresses playing the ball on the ground. If we can build full field indoor facilities this is a good way to make use of those fields and get more people playing at once since its 32 players playing on one field at once and you can use this for adults as well (the league and format is a big draw). It would be hard/impossible to outlaw indoor with facilities already built and many people enjoying the game but we can stress the smaller field games and building full field facilities makes it more versatile as long as it can still serve lots of people

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