Wednesday, June 20, 2007


The Football Room, Part 1

A largely personal post, for a change.

Last night, I filled in for an indoor football team run by a friend of mine. Never mind that the rain was pelting down outside and the Sydney roads were treacherous - to the continuing despair of my wife, I'll never turn down an offer of a game of football, of whatever variety.

I very much enjoyed the game (my friend's team won), and the experience was an instructive one. Below, then, some musings on the phenomenon of indoor football as a whole, and in particular the current interest in "Futsal", the variant of the game gaining increasing credibility as a developmental tool.

The name "Futsal" simply means "room football" (FUTebol de SAL√£o, in Portuguese), although the use of that specific term is fairly recent. Now that the rules of the "official" indoor game have been strictly codified, it would be incorrect to describe the version we were playing last night as "Futsal", even though it was five-a-side and played indoors, on a hard surface.

But there are certain characteristics that I feel would apply equally to all modes of the indoor game. In this post, some of the positives I felt were offered by the indoor game as opposed to the outdoor version; in the next, some reservations about its use as a developmental tool for outdoor footballers.

There is certainly a premium placed on the ability to work in tight spaces, and find one's way out of a corner. I found early on that because the space in which I had to operate was being closed down much more quickly than usual, I was having to make decisions much faster...and often I chose the wrong one. Later on, I began to adapt a bit better.

My friend and his team-mates are Italian, and like so many footballers of Italian descent, they look elegant and comfortable on the ball, and rarely hesitate to take on their man. The interesting thing was that they had more cause to do this than they would get in outdoor football, because of the limited space, and (I felt) because of the immediate possibility of a goal if they succeeded. Almost every time they got past their opposite number, they were able to get in a shot.

Short passing is, of course, at the core of the indoor game, and the smooth surface (plus the lack of decision-making time which I referred to earlier), certainly puts a premium on quick, precise passing.

Towards the end of the game, I found that, after a hack-like beginning, I was actually making some good, accurate, and necessary short passes. It was, dare I say, something of a breakthrough.

More to come in Part 2.

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