The Growth of Alternative Soccer

Posted by Coach Comments Off
Feb 242010

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (February 24, 2010) The last decade has seen tremendous growth of alternate forms of soccer throughout the world.  We have witnessed the growth of indoor soccer, sand soccer, futsal, and street soccer.

AVID Soccer News Beach Soccer

Beach Soccer Demonstration

Sand Soccer started decades ago on the beaches of Brazil with pick-up games.  This gradually grew into organized games,  tournaments, and finally professional play.  Beach Soccer is recognized by FIFA as a fully regulated and supported variation.  Sand/beach soccer is played in bare feet with no shin guards.  Accordingly, the ball is lighter and softer than a grass ball.  Playing in the sand presents interesting option, both for play and for training.  Obviously, it works the legs differently providing a good cross-training option.  Even the lighter ball, doesn’t bounce much on the sand.  This requires faster footwork and quick decision-making.

To represent sand/beach soccer, we spent time with Christiaan Wagener of Beach Soccer Promotions.  Beach Soccer Promotions is the company behind Copa Cabana Beach Soccer and much of the Southern California beach soccer scene.  According to Wagener, beach soccer in SoCal started when coastal players players couldn’t find enough pitches to play on.

Team in Long Beach and Laguna would train in the sand and play small sided games.  Later, the teams became clubs and added tournaments and clinics.  The same thing was happening on the East Coast and in the Gulf.  Today, Copa Cabana hosts tournaments across the country.  They have partnered with CalSouth for an adult league.

AVID Soccer News Futsal

Futsal Tournament

It is common to confuse indoor soccer and futsal.  Indoor is typically played on turf or a painted pitch in a large area (sometimes it isn’t even indoors).  Goals are often built into the walls of the facility.  It may also be used for arena football.  Futsal is typically played on a much smaller pitch.  Often, a basketball court or gym floor is used for play.  Like beach soccer, Futsal began as a fun variation played on basketball courts.  It has since grown in both South America and Europe to be a professional sport fully sanctioned and regulated by FIFA.  In the US, the governing body is the US Futsal Federation.  It was founded in 1981, supports leagues in every state and includes more than 100,000 players.

Futsal uses a special ball.  It is designed to reduce bouncing.  Typically, they are about a size 4.  The game is a five on five including the goalkeeper.  Substitutions are hockey style and can be made at any time during the game.  Throw-ins are replaced with kick-ins.  Games are 20 minute halves with one timeout per team per half.

To gain more insight into futsal, we spoke with Valerie Jameson.  Ms. Jameson is the Executive Director of Albuquerque Futsal.  The game has grown a great deal over the last few years.  New Mexico now has teams from U9-Adult including coed play.  For the time being, only Albuquerque has an organized league, but others are likely to follow.  New Mexico participates in the regional and national championships and attended the Nike5 Southwest Regional Championship in Los Angeles.

The oldest and newest variation is street soccer.  It is the first game everyone plays and the least organized.  Pick up games happen in the front yard, at the school or the nearest park.  All that is necessary are two people, a ball and something to serve as a goal.  Recently, street soccer has become more organized.  We spoke to Josh Robbins of Calle Republic.  He spoke of urban areas that are unused.  Empty space such as old courts and empty parking lots are being converted to street soccer.  Rules are agreed at the beginning of the game.  Often, games are played to last team standing.  Winning team stays on the court and losers walk.  Other times, players are swapped based on goal differential with the purpose of balancing the teams.

Street soccer has gotten a great deal of attention, even earning its own video games.  Electronic Arts offers FIFA Street, Acclaim’s Freestyle Street Soccer and Gameloft’s Samuel Eto’o Underground Street Soccer.  None of these are particularly interesting games, but they do show just how pervasive street soccer has become.

AVID Soccer News Street Soccer

Street Soccer Demonstration

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