Co-ed futsal (not footsie) is on the rise |

Co-ed futsal (not footsie) is on the rise

Post Independent/Kelley CoxDave Shepard of The Coaches battles with Jenny LaBaw of team Rippy #1 during a game of futsal, a variation of indoor soccer, at the Glenwood Springs Community Center Sunday afternoon.

They play with fewer people, on a smaller space, with smaller goals and a shorter clock. Instead of playing outside, they play inside and instead of having assigned defenders and midfielders or a goalie, everyone plays everything.

They basically play a form of condensed, intensified soccer called futsal.

Futsal originated in Brazil, where it still remains very popular. Pele, arguably the greatest soccer player to ever play the game, has credited futsal with developing his skills.

Derived from the Spanish and Portuguese word for soccer ” fut and the Spanish word for indoor ” sal, futsal has become one of the most popular sports around the world over the past 25 years. According to the United States Futsal Federation, which was created in 1981, more than 25 million people play worldwide.

It has even become popular in Glenwood Springs, where a co-ed futsal league has been in existence since the Glenwood Springs Community Center opened a few years ago.

This season, which started on Sunday and goes through March 19, fields eight teams in the league, with games taking place Sunday evenings. It has brought players of all ages, many of whom are current or former outdoor soccer players.

“In the wintertime you gotta have something to do. It’s hard to play soccer in the snow, so this is the alternative,” said first-year futsal player and lifelong soccer player Danah Waters. “Plus getting out with friends and playing on the weekends is fun.”

Futsal is very similar to indoor soccer, but also has some differences. It is played on a basketball court, with no boards outlining the court, just lines. If the ball, which is different from a soccer ball because it is a special, low-bounce ball that requires players to use their skills as opposed to the ball’s bounce, goes out of bounds, it is kicked back in to restart play. In regular indoor soccer, there are boards, like in hockey that keeps the ball in bounds.

It differs from outdoor soccer in many ways including playing with five people instead of 11, having two 25-minute halves instead of two 40-minute halves, and instead of having a 8-by-24-foot goals, futsal has smaller goals that are about 3 feet high and 4 feet wide.

“Normally I am an offensive player on the (outdoor soccer) field, but here I play everything, everywhere,” Waters said. “As soon as you are done playing offense, you turn around and play defense.”

Futsal is much faster than soccer because the size of the playing surface is so greatly reduced.

“It’s faster game,” said Debbi Cerri, a veteran player. “People will haul off and kick it, but it just ends up knocking someone hard. It is a game of finesse, speed and running to space. It’s smooth and magical. It’s excellent exercise.”

Of the eight teams, two are made up of students at Colorado Mountain College, one is a Basalt High School team and the rest are just groups of friends and associates. One team, called The Coaches, consists of different coaches from the Glenwood area.

“My team is made up of coaches. I’ve got a tennis coach, a few soccer coaches and a basketball coach,” said Cerri, a club soccer coach in Glenwood. “We do it for fun, but it’s still competitive. We just lost 3-2 (on Sunday night), but it was close and they (CMC) were a lot younger.”

Phyllis Zilm, the tennis coach at Glenwood Springs High School, is a member of The Coaches and has never played indoor soccer before, but she enjoyed her first game on Sunday.

“I played field hockey in college, so I am used to a little rougher (play),” Zilm said. “I don’t know how to play soccer, but it’s fun.”

While most people play for fun and for exercise, futsal still has a competitive edge. One player, Thad Eshelmen, believes that winning is very important.

“I’ve played in this league since it stared and my team has never lost,” Eshelmen said.

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